Skyline 2020 graduation ceremony better late than never

Gale Rose
Pratt Tribune
Skyline High School 2020 graduates Caleb Reece and Kailey Hamm received Citizenship Awards at the commencement ceremony held Saturday in Pratt. Graduation and award presentations has been postponed from earlier in the school year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

It was a couple of months late, but Skyline held graduation exercises at 2 p.m. on Saturday, July 11 at the school in the Thunderdome. 

Honor graduate Caleb Reece may have summed up the situation the best when he said the biggest lesson this class will take away this year is not to take anything for granted. 

Every other row of bleacher seats in the gym were tapped off, graduate chairs were placed a distance apart, rows of seats on the floor were placed a little further apart then usual in an effort to meet health safety needs because of the COVID-19 crisis. Here and there in the room, people were wearing masks but most opted not to wear them. 

Seniors, all mask-less, gathered in the Family and Consumer Science room to don their caps and gowns and get last minute instructions as usual. 

There was the traditional march into the gym but there was no band to provide pre graduation music or to play the traditional march “Pomp and Circumstance” by Sir Edward Elgar. Instead, a pair of trumpet players, Ashlee Flora and Randi Hoffman, performed “Trumpet Voluntary” as the students made their way into the gym. 

Senior Class President Ryan Adams gave a short introductory speech then High School Principal Herb McPherson, also mask-less, took a moment to recognize Senior Jacob Swisher who was shortly going into the Army and would be stationed at Fort Leonard Wood in the Missouri Ozarks. 

McPherson then introduced the honor graduates for their speeches. Seniors Corina Crouch, who said they were taught endurance and that’s what high school is all about, Brook Hamilton and Caleb Reece gave heartfelt speeches and Hamilton and Reece had to fight back tears as they shared their thoughts with their classmates and the audience. Adams was also an honor graduate but declined to speak again after his opening remarks. Kailey Hamm gave the Senor Representative speech. 

In her charge to the class, Superintendent Becca Flowers said “You are a resilient group of talented young people. Don’t let the world change you, go out and change the world.” 

The traditional choir numbers were not given but the Citizenship Awards were presented to Seniors Caleb Reece and Kailey Hamm. Normally, that announcement is made at an awards banquet but it, like much else this spring, was cancelled. 

The ceremony then moved right into the presentation of diplomas after Flowers presented the class to the Board of Education as having completed the requirements for graduation. Board of Education Vice President Rick Shriver, who was mask less, accepted the candidates for graduation then moved immediately to the diploma presentation ceremony. 

No hand shakes here as Shriver handed each student their diploma, paused for an official photo then exchanged elbow bumps as Flowers, also mask less, read each students name in alphabetical order. One student, Kenneth Haines, was unable to attend but his name was read like all the rest. 

After diplomas, the students formed a line and at the announcement of the graduation class of 2020, hats went flying into the air. Then some family and friends broke the six feet barrier to talk or hug or give a hand shake. Others chose to keep their distance.

McPherson estimated the crowd at 300, which was much smaller than usual. But he was happy they got to have a graduation at all. The school held off on a graduation ceremony as long as possible to see if they could hold an in-person event. 

“I’m glad we had the ceremony,” McPherson said. “Nobody wanted a virtual ceremony.”

After so many weeks and months of being isolated, being able to have an in person ceremony was beneficial to everyones emotional health.

“I think the parents needed this as much as the kids,” McPherson said. 

It was better late than never.