COOLIDGE — It doesn’t happen very often that the previous year’s graduates make their walk the week after the current class, but the pandemic and its aftermath have created unprecedented situations.

In Coolidge there was a second chance for celebration, as 75 students from the Class of 2020 — about half of them — were able to participate in the formal ceremony that took place last Thursday at Larry Delbridge Stadium.

“Last year at this time you all were hoping for these folks to get this opportunity to walk across the stage,” said Coolidge High School Principal Ben Armstrong. “That didn’t happen. We did not know what we were dealing with and we were trying to put safety first. When an opportunity arose, the class reached out. It’s pretty awesome that we can do this now.”

Armstrong joked that unlike the previous week, he worried what advice, if any, he could give to students who already had their diplomas in hand.

“They are fine young men and women,” Armstrong said. “You guys should be very proud of them.”

CUSD board President Michael Flores praised the students for their resilience and perseverance, having to adjust to a whole new virtual way of learning during the final months of their school year.

“Your graduation may have been delayed by a year, but after all that we have been through together, it makes this day more unique,” Flores said. “You worked hard to earn this. Remember once a Bear, always a Bear!”

Originally, the school had planned for an in-person graduation ceremony during homecoming week last fall. Once that fell through, another opportunity didn’t present itself until the district’s eighth grade promotion ceremony was pushed back, due to a student contracting COVID-19.