- School District 49
VRHS Celebrates Graduation Outdoors with Family
The Vista Ridge High School Class of 2020 gathered together for one last time on a beautiful June morning to celebrate their graduation at UC Health Park. Many of the students hadn’t seen one another since before spring break in March as the pandemic altered the semester and traditional senior class activities. Today, Thursday, June 25,they sat six feet apart from each other in the green outfield ready to graduate and turn their tassels to signify their transition from students to graduates. Parents, family and friends, happily sat in the grandstands. They were only told a couple weeks ago that they would be able to attend the outdoor ceremony.
“The senior class at VRHS is a part of the wolf pack that have refused to focus on what they have missed, but have focused on making every attempt to maintain the relationships they have developed,” said VRHS Principal Bruce Gross. “They demonstrated their grit and determination as they focused on finishing strong. They have learned that together they can accomplish many things.”
Samantha Lusk said, “There were a lot of downfalls to this semester, but we’re getting something out of it. And I get to have my family here, which is really good.”
Jude Almacen said, “It’s relieving to be here. Graduation was always up in the air, whether or not we’d be able to walk. I’m just glad it’s happening, that we can commence the ceremony like we’re supposed to do.”
Almacen was happy to have his family in the stands to watch the ceremony. “It means a lot, they’ve been my biggest supporters my entire school career, everything I’ve been doing from academics to extracurriculars. They are so proud of me today.”
“It feels good to be here,” said Jadon Ibidapo. “I’m excited to have my family here, it would be messed up if they couldn’t be here to watch the ceremony.”
Jadon’s father, Olubowale, said, “I’m definitely glad they are having the ceremony, to see the tradition, to see him walk across the stage.”
Kathleen Maturin, who many know because of her dog, Vista, the husky, said her daughter Kat is the last of seven children to graduate. “It’s just a blessing to be here. These kids almost missed out on this experience. They get to be together, to support each other.”
During his address to the senior class, POWER Zone leader Dr. Mike Pickering said, “What this abnormal graduation does not create, an abnormal graduate. All of your passions, dreams and accomplishments are still as important and relevant as they ever were. Perhaps even more in some contexts. The same characteristics that brought you to this very time and place today, are the same characteristics that will continue to help you persevere and help you get through the next chapters in your life.”
Referencing the struggles of the past few months, Valedictorian Kylie McDonald addressed her classmates, “Let’s appreciate a little more, love a little harder, and smile a little bigger. Our lives are too short to take anything for granted anymore. I am extremely grateful to have been a part of the Vista Ridge Class of 2020. We are strong, determined and drive people. We are all going to leave our mark in this world.”
The senior class walked the outfield grass and up onto the stage near second base. One by one, the seniors paused for a moment on the platform, letting the camera display them on the large video screen in leftfield as parents and family cheered, clapped and blew horns.
“Graduation is a significant event that students and staff have invested a great amount of time and energy into,” said Gross. “I believe everyone is excited about how this situation has turned out. This is an event that deserves to be a family celebration.”