In a scene that was familiar and yet new, Jamestown High School seniors graduated Sunday, May 24, at the Jamestown Civic Center.
“Today we do something that seniors all over the globe can’t,” said Ashlyn Schauer, one of two speakers from the graduating class of 157 students. “We walk the stage, get our diploma in front of our classmates and four of our closest friends and family.”
The graduates walked across the stage, but they didn’t shake hands with a school board member as they received their diploma. Instead, they picked it up from a table, walked to a spot to have their photo taken and then proceeded back to their seat on the Civic Center floor, sitting in a chair spaced out for social distancing.
School officials and some graduates wore a face mask and others attending were encouraged to wear one, too.
The last few months of school were completed through an online platform due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“We lost our senior prank, last pep rally, final goodbyes,” Schauer said. “We lost that feeling of walking through our school one last time, ready to say goodbye. Our final goodbyes at somewhere where we’ve laughed, cried, made memories. Though we’ve lost so much we’ve gained the realization that together we can overcome anything.”
Jessica Chandler, the other graduating senior who spoke, noted the last time the class was in the same building was March 11. She advised freshmen, sophomore and junior students to not take their time in those school years for granted, and “do it all:” take part in dances, games and other activities. Make time for friends.
“These are the memories that last,” she said.
She said the class has received a lot of support.
Adam Gehlhar, principal of Jamestown High School, echoed that.
“In a normal year we would take this ceremony for granted,” he said. He said the city of Jamestown, Stutsman County Emergency Management, Central Valley Health District and the Civic Center staff made the graduation ceremony possible.
He also said the community had supported the students in various ways.
“Seniors, your community cares about you,” Gehlhar said. “And always remember that in good times or in tough times Jamestown bands together to support each other.”
The graduates were limited to four tickets for family or friends to attend the event and those attendees were seated at specific times at assigned seats. The event was also livestreamed on the district's website.