Tigard continues drive-thru graduation for Class of 2021

A graduate, poking up through a sunroof, parades along in Tigard High School's drive-thru graduation on June 12. (Henry Kaus/Tigard Life)

Last year, Tigard High School saw its first iteration of what they called their drive-thru graduation for the class of 2020. Seniors, accompanied by friends and family of their choosing, paraded through the Cook Park parking lot in dressed-up vehicles to retrieve their long-awaited high school diploma.

After seeing success of the event with the COVID-19 pandemic, the drive-thru graduation was repeated on Saturday, June 12 for this year’s senior graduating class, this time on school property.

With school construction in a near-finished state since the modernization effort began in 2018, the completed main school parking lot could be utilized rather than reserving Cook Park for the day.

And in a time of finding unorthodox alternatives, this event was no exception.

As all the formalities of a graduation had occurred on the previous Wednesday’s senior celebration with speeches, tassel turning and, of course, Pomp and Circumstance, the planning administration could have a bit more fun with this “graduation.”

Balloons aptly shaped “2021” lined the parking lot entrance on Southwest 92nd Avenue, dozens of Tigard educators were in attendance to cheer on their now former students and goodbyes were sadly ready to be shared.

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So, as vehicles started rolling in among the graduating students, the staff braced themselves. The music had turned up and through the parking lot maze, these students began their final visit to the school.

Some with family and friends packed the beds of pick-up trucks, with others poking through open sunroofs. A 1930 Plymouth Model 30-U cruised along but so did one graduate on a Honda motorcycle all decorated in celebratory graduation style. Streamers, banners, pen markings and even balloons (some of which decided to take a detour into the atmosphere) came through on the parade line of cars.

But, of course, besides the various and hundreds of vehicles, emotion played its heavy role.

Teary-eyed students said their last goodbye to their favorite teachers, proud parents watched their kid walk the red carpet to receive their diploma and an overall sense of accomplishment and eagerness for what’s to come, filled the lot.

After students had received their yearbooks and actual paper diplomas at various stations through the lot, they geared up to do the infamous “walk.” Students, who would be alumni in mere moments, exited their vehicles one at a time. With their name called over the loudspeaker, they walked a few momentous steps to Principal Brian Bailey and received their Tigard High School diploma cover among school board members and other administration; the students’ high school journey now completed at this major milestone.