It goes without saying that Durango High School’s seniors will not get the traditional graduation experience, but staff members worked to ensure the June 13 ceremony will provide them some recognition.
Graduates will have the opportunity to walk across a stage at a drive-in ceremony set to begin at 10 a.m. in the main DHS parking lot off Main Avenue.
Cars with students will start lining up at 8 a.m., with other attendees following on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Durango High School Principal Jon Hoerl confirmed the plan for the graduation on Wednesday after checking in with San Juan Basin Public Health to ensure the school was following the best health and safety measures.
“The two big things we heard from students is that they wanted to experience graduation with their peers, and they wanted to walk across a stage at graduation,” Hoerl said in a phone interview.
There will be an elevated stage at the center of the parking lot, and students will come up to it in groups of 10 to receive a symbolic diploma and take their picture with Hoerl.
“I’m very excited to provide as close to a traditional graduation program as we can,” Hoerl said.
Students will need to stay 6 feet apart on stage and wear a mask.
“But we will have a wonderful surprise for our graduates,” Hoerl said.
Organizing a commencement ceremony during the COVID-19 pandemic has been a challenge for La Plata County’s biggest high school, with SJBPH declining to support earlier plans to hold multiple outdoor ceremonies for 50 students at a time at DHS stadium later in the summer.
As cars with graduates enter the parking lot, they will receive a letter, such as A, B or C, with 10 of each letter to help facilitate the transition between groups on the stage. The order in which graduates arrive is the order in which they will be called to stage.
There are 238 DHS seniors receiving diplomas this year.
Radio stations KKDG, 99.7-FM, and KXRC, 105.3-FM, in Durango will broadcast ceremony so attendees can listen in their cars.
The ceremony will also be covered by Local News Network Durango.