Graduates of Durango Big Picture High School had the chance to celebrate their academic accomplishments with an in-person graduation ceremony Saturday evening.
Friends and family spaced out across Rotary Park to cheer on nine graduates – two students out of the class of 11 were unable to attend.
Parents said they were grateful the school’s administration put together a delayed in-person graduation, instead of doing a drive-in graduation or scheduling something online.
“We beat the odds and a pandemic to get here,” said student speaker Elizabeth Dilworth.
The school’s small size allowed for the in-person ceremony, said Principal Bradley Hardin. Advisers also addressed each student individually and commended their accomplishments over the past four years.
“I’m so glad they didn’t miss out, this is a huge milestone for these kids,” said parent Stephanie Linscott, mother of graduate Iris Linscott.
During her speech, Dilworth reflected on some of the things her graduating class missed out on because of the COVID-19 pandemic: prom and a “tearful last day of school.”
So the students voted to delay their graduation until they could safely have one in person and celebrate in the gazebo to the aptly chosen song “Survivor” by Destiny’s Child.
The students worked hard to get their diplomas by taking advanced courses remotely, which is “way different than being in a classroom,” said parent Aaron Rogers, whose daughter, Summer, was one of the graduates.
The fact that the students got an in-person graduation ceremony after learning it might not be an option made his family and Summer super-ecstatic, Aaron Rogers said.
The keynote address from Assistant Principal Dreher Robertson made students laugh but also pointed out their ability to meet challenges head on if they could graduate during a global pandemic.
“When I first met these students four years ago, I knew the apocalypse was coming,” Robertson joked to the graduating class of 2020.
Adviser Shannon Cruise also addressed the value of adaptability in her individual addresses to each student.
“Your cup is full or empty depending on what you put in it,” Cruise said.