Animas High School administrators are taking a cue from their curriculum that emphasizes real-world problem-solving as they organize an unusual drive-in graduation ceremony for 2020, a year marred by COVID-19 disruptions of normal life.
AHS Head of School Sean Woytek said the school is working with Durango event coordinator John Oakes, and if internet access is available, the ceremony, planned to begin at 4 p.m. May 29, will be livestreamed on Facebook.
“A nice advantage of us being a small, close community is that we are highly adaptable. We’re able to be pretty flexible, and we’re able to utilize our creative, collaborative problem-solving that we preach to our students,” he said.
The event will be held on ranch land east of Durango. The location of the event will not be disclosed publicly to protect the students’ identities and to keep uninvited observers from the ceremony, which will abide by health restrictions in place to deal with COVID-19.
One car with family members from each of the 58 graduates will be allowed into the drive-in ceremony. Cars will be lined up alphabetically by family name in sight of a makeshift stage where traditional speeches will be made and graduates will then pick up their diplomas. Families will then drive to the stage to pick their child up and get photos.
AHS is working with San Juan Basin Public Health to establish the rules for the ceremony. Participants will social distance, use hand sanitizer frequently and wear masks. When graduates receive their diplomas, they will be allowed to remove their masks for photographs.
A parade of graduates in their family cars is planned for Main Avenue in downtown Durango for families who want to participate.
The school has been working with SJBPH on the ceremony, but it has yet to be given final approval. The health department has checked off on the broad outline of the ceremony, Woytek said.
Woytek said there is always a possibility plans could change as COVID-19 restrictions are modified to meet the changing situation with the virus.
“We’re nimble, and hopefully we won’t have to change plans again, but unfortunately, in the times we’re living in, you never know,” he said.