Back on track: ‘Stoga proceeds with in-person graduation

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By Nishka Avunoori, Co-Webmaster As the hybrid school year comes to an end, the preparations for an almost normal graduation ceremony are underway. Around 550 graduates will have the opportunity to bid adieu to their high school days on June 8 in-person on Teamer Field.  Class of 2021 will have a chance to commemorate this...

By Nishka Avunoori, Co-Webmaster

As the hybrid school year comes to an end, the preparations for an almost normal graduation ceremony are underway. Around 550 graduates will have the opportunity to bid adieu to their high school days on June 8 in-person on Teamer Field. 

Class of 2021 will have a chance to commemorate this grand occasion with a traditional ceremony and unlimited guests. Over 4,000 spectators are expected to attend. Currently, masks are required for all unvaccinated individuals, but due to the sheer volume of guests, it will be challenging to verify personal vaccination statuses. Moreover, social distancing guidelines have been lifted. With so many new changes underway to the safety protocols, the spread of COVID-19 is a concern. Still, Dr. Amy Meisinger, principal of Conestoga High School, believes guests will follow the guidelines.

“I think we’re all adjusting to the new safety protocols. With the June 1 changes that allow for outdoor events, I feel confident that people will adhere to wearing a mask if they’re not vaccinated and that we are in compliance with what we should be doing, and it’ll be a great night,” Meisinger said. 

Traditions like a song and commencement speakers are set to be conducted as usual. Seniors Andrew Kim and Gabrielle Valencia, as well as Michele Burger, the school board president, will deliver speeches during the ceremony. Kim and Valencia feel honored to be able to convey messages personal to them in front of thousands of people. 

“I’m honored. I would never have thought I would have received this opportunity. I auditioned to get this message out that I have about pursuing the unknown and making the most of all the opportunities you’re provided with, which has guided me for the past 13 years while I’ve been in the district,” Kim said. “It makes me really happy that I have this opportunity to share it with the rest of my class as they move on to college or join the workforce.”

Valencia’s speech is titled “The Beauty of Becoming”, and she drew inspiration from her own experiences. Giving a commencement address was something she always wanted to do, and she thanks her friends for encouraging her to grasp this opportunity.

“I’m the type of person who has a 30-year plan. One day I was looking at it, and I just laughed at myself because that’s not how you should live life. If you put yourself in a box and know exactly what you want to do and you worry about the future you’re never gonna ever figure out where you’re actually supposed to go,” Valencia said. “When you enjoy the process of becoming who you’re supposed to be you’ll figure out where you’re supposed to go. It’s not something that you should know at 18.”

Kim and Valencia are thrilled about having an in-person graduation to cap off the end of their time at ‘Stoga after spending their last year together in a hybrid school model. 

“I’m really excited about our in-person graduation. I wasn’t all too excited about getting pictures on the podium by myself and being on my way because that’s anticlimactic,” Kim said. “It’s exciting that there’s going to be that atmosphere. If I’ve missed anything about the world pre-COVID, then it’s going to be that when there are a lot of people present somewhere, there’s that sort of energy.”


Nishka Avunoori can be reached at [email protected]

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