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PPEC Perseveres, Celebrates Class of 2020

Parents and family members sat in decorated cars and made lots of noise in the parking lot at Vista Ridge High School May 22 to help honor the Pikes Peak Early College Class of 2020.

PPEC graduates are honored at outdoor ceremony May 22.

The graduates marked their milestone with a drive-in, socially-distanced and live-streamed ceremony. “I always thought my senior year would finish with a bang, but when COVID-19 hit, it turned to more of a fizzle,” shared Abigail Hess, graduate. “When I heard that PPEC would still be having a graduation ceremony, the spark was reignited.”

Graduates practiced social distancing and waited in cars until Rochelle Kolhouse, principal, gave the nod to line up six feet apart on a rolled-out carpet near the staging area.  A total of 12 graduates participated in the COVID-19 era ceremony.

When each graduate proceeded to the staging area for their turn in the spotlight, Dale Bonavita, college advisor at PPEC, shared words about each graduate that had been written by a family member or friend selected by each student. “Our future may be uncertain, yet I am absolutely certain that, without a doubt, before me lies greatness,” said Bonavita.

D49 leaders applauded the graduates for showing grit and resilience during a unique time and for finishing the year with admirable accomplishments. Nearly half of the 53 graduates in the class earned an associate degree, industry certification or 60 credits toward a bachelor’s degree, along with completing high school. Graduates in the class wore gowns that represented the colors of the colleges from which they earned degrees.

Andy Franko, iConnect zone leader, delivered the keynote speech and other distinguished guests were kept to a minimum due to health department restrictions and included John Graham, board of education president; Peter Hilts, chief education officer; Brett Ridgway, chief business officer; and Dave Knoche, executive principal at Springs Studio for Academic Excellence.

To cap off the ceremony, Kolhouse prompted the class members back in their vehicles to turn their tassels together from the right side to the left, symbolizing their transition from student to graduate. Family members honked horns, and cheers rang loud in support of the monumental moment.

PPEC graduates honored during outdoor ceremony May 22.

“I love the way the school triumphed over countless obstacles with determination to honor graduates,” shared Kelly Hess, parent. “This is a phenomenal example of perseverance for our students. We need these milestones celebrated, no matter how unique and unprecedented that celebration may be.”

Click on image below to see complete PPEC Graduation album of photos on Facebook.

View more photos on Facebook

Amy Matisek