ELOY — The celebration on Thursday night will be a little unconventional for graduating seniors at Santa Cruz Valley Union High School due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
After Gov. Doug Ducey announced in March that schools would remain closed for the rest of the school year, many students and their families worried about whether there would even be a graduation ceremony.
Santa Cruz Valley’s graduation was originally scheduled for this Thursday and although it won’t be a traditional graduation, seniors will still have the opportunity to be recognized on that day.
“We’re going to have a graduate recognition and then whenever permissions are available, we’re going to have a traditional graduation ceremony just as we would any other time,” Santa Cruz Valley principal Dr. Orante Jenkins said.
The graduate recognition celebration on Thursday is closed to the public, but it will be live streamed and available for viewing beginning at 8 p.m. on the high school’s Facebook page.
According to Jenkins, students will drive up to a staging area and exit their vehicle to receive their diploma and will then return to their vehicle and drive out of the campus.
“I got a couple emails back saying, ‘Thank you. We really appreciate something, something is better than nothing,’” Jenkins said. “I guess they heard that some schools are not having any type of ceremonies. I think they understand that when these stipulations will have lifted, we’re going to give them the ceremony that they deserve. We wanted to do something; we didn’t want them to not have anything.”
Although the recognition celebration is not open to the public, the city of Eloy has agreed to close off Main Street at that time which will allow family and friends of the graduates to lineup along the sidewalk to cheer them on as they drive by.
“The city is going to block off the roads going from Eighth Street to Main Street and then all the way down to Frontier,” Vice Mayor Micah Powell said during Monday night’s City Council meeting. “It’s a nice thing to still honor our graduates and practice social distancing, where you’re not in a crowd and you’re spread out a long Main Street. We’ll also have a banner, so it’ll be a nice thing.”
Jenkins said that the administration has talked about a traditional graduation ceremony, but there is no date at this time.
“We’re excited,” Jenkins said. “We wanted to make sure we did something temporarily to recognize them (and) get them their diplomas in their hands because they do deserve this. We know it’s not ideal, but we definitely didn’t want this moment to pass without them being able to receive some type of recognition.”