Tigard’s Unexpected Graduation

Tigard senior Lando Lopez drives past after picking up his graduation gear. Along with caps and gowns, seniors recieved yard signs commemorating the THS 2020 class. Photo courtesy of Liz Blodgett.

How often do you see hundreds of students lined up in cars to receive their caps, gowns and cords? Not all too often. On any ordinary year, seniors would flock to the high school halls to take hold of their graduation attire. But as we all know, this isn’t such an ordinary year.

On May 4, the Tigard class of 2020 participated in a drive-thru cap and gown retrieval day. With masks and gloves dawned, the district handed out gear to each student and their family.

Of course, this was a very special day for the seniors. Staff lined the Tigard Aquatic Center parking lot with pom-poms, cheers and an abundance of decor. A very similar encounter will also take hold of the students’ graduation in what Tigard calls a ‘drive-up graduation ceremony’.

Seniors of the school, dressed in their caps, gowns and cords, will steer their way to the school, walk out and grab their diploma. Following will be a photo opportunity for each senior until they get back into their vehicles and follow a designated route.

This form of graduation will also be followed by a virtual graduation including performances, speeches, each student’s name read aloud and the turning of tassels.

Students have the option to submit their own personalized slide or video to be shown during this time.

Despite the lack of a true in-person graduation, the district plans to host a community celebration when it’s safe to do so. Should the opportunity not arise during summer 2020, then a one-year reunion will be put in the works.

This class is missing their senior prom, graduation and much valued time with the people they know before many of whom head their separate ways. The schools are trying to honor them in any way possible.

Currently, every senior’s name is displayed on Tigard High’s electronic sign and along with many other high schools across the nation, they are participating in the ‘Be the Light’ movement. Lighting up their stadium lights every Friday at 8:20 p.m. (20:20) for 20 minutes until the end of the school year.

In a statement, the Tigard-Tualatin School District said, “No pandemic can minimize the pride we feel for our Class of 2020 — your resilience, your accomplishments and the achievement of this major milestone in your lives. We thank you, along with your families and our broader community for your patience and understanding as we have rolled up our sleeves to make sure all our seniors successfully complete this unprecedented school year.”