Of all the groups impacted by the ongoing pandemic, among those hit the hardest were this year’s high school seniors. The impacts of COVID-19 wiped out their last year of public school, left them without spring sports campaigns and resulted in the cancellation of senior social events, including graduation.
In Enumclaw, the district has been taking steps to help the Class of 2020 receive a modified send-off.
Monday was a big day, beginning with an afternoon graduation parade and concert at the Enumclaw Expo Center. That evening, Enumclaw television (ECTV) aired a virtual graduation ceremony that was produced last month on the EHS campus.
Monday night’s broadcast aired at 7 p.m. but will be available online. It includes students walking across the Enumclaw High stage to pick up diplomas and student speeches, among other things.
Monday’s event at the Expo Center featured a short concert by Nashville-based country artist Drew Baldridge, whose latest song, “Senior Year,” has been striking a chord with 2020 graduates.
Since COVID-19 has prevented students from traditional graduation ceremonies, Baldridge has performed his song for more than 60 Zoom events and is now doing shows in-person for drive-through ceremonies. Baldridge has performed in Enumclaw in recent years, apparently enjoyed the experience so much that he volunteered to appear at the Expo Center.
The lyrics to “Senior Year” include elements familiar to high school students, from letter jackets to high school romance. The song, with its built-in audience, has reached No. 50 on the Billboard chart.
Monday’s event maintained social-distancing guidelines, including a senior auto parade through the Expo Center grounds that had EHS teachers lining the path.
Still unresolved is a formal request by the Enumclaw School Board for an outdoor commencement ceremony in July. The idea called for something at the Enumclaw Expo Center football field, where social distancing guidelines could still be observed.
Early efforts to push the idea up the bureaucratic ladder resulted in zero feedback. So, during a special meeting on Sunday, June 7, the five members of the Enumclaw School Board voted unanimously to direct their request to the highest levels of state and county government. Specifically, their request went to Gov. Jay Inslee, the state’s Superintendent of Public Schools Chris Reykdal and King County Executive Dow Constantine.
The following is the letter, dated June 8, sent by the board:
Dear Governor Inslee, Superintendent Reykdal and King County Executive Constantine:
We, the Enumclaw School District Board of Directors are requesting to have an outdoor graduation ceremony in July to honor our 2020 graduating class. We believe we can achieve the health standards of social distancing and monitoring crowds by having this ticketed event on our football field.
This letter does not come to you without a lot of discernment on the part of each board member. At our board meeting on June 7th, we took action to send this official request to you for, what we are hoping will be, approval.
Our students will be forever grateful for this decision. They will always remember the courageous adults who were a part of making this dream come true.
With gratitude and respect for your leadership,
Tina McGann, Board President
Jennifer Watterson, Board Vice President
Bryan Stanwood, Board Member
Tyson Gamblin, Board Member
Jennifer Kent, Board Member