The coronavirus pandemic has forced many states to cancel in-person school instruction and events, including long-awaited graduation ceremonies for millions of high school seniors.
That wasn’t the case, however, for a group of seniors at Dohn Community High School in Cincinnati, Ohio. Instead of resorting to an online send-off, the charter school offered a handful of graduates a modified graduation, according to Fox19Now.
The school’s director, Ramone Davenport, brought the ceremony to the students’ homes where seniors dressed in caps and gowns, along with masks and gloves, received their diplomas on a table adorned with the school’s colors and flowers.
Davenport, who also wore protective coverings, presented the selected seniors their diplomas with high elbows instead of hugs and handshakes. Each individual ceremony featured family members who cheered from a distance, usually across the street, holding handmade congratulatory signs for the students.
“Students have worked their tails off,” Davenport told the local news station. “I think I have to keep the motivation in the spirits of them, so they can continue to get this high school diploma then go on to the next level.”
Dohn counted 250 graduates among its roster, according to WCPO-TV. Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine encouraged high schools to host virtual celebrations or in-person events of fewer than 10 people amid the coronavirus pandemic, the ABC affiliate reported.
“I was honestly upset because it’s been 12 years that I waited for my diploma,” graduate Vic’ Tajia Stuckey told the news station. “But Dohn always makes it happen for us.”
Nearly all of Dohn Community High School’s 1,000 students are at or below the poverty line.
One of the seniors, Prince Dixon, admitted to being nervous to take part, but the nerves soon transformed into happiness.
“At first I was kind of nervous,” said Dixon, who is moving on to the University of Cincinnati – Blue Ash, which is about a dozen miles away from his alma mater. “But I see everyone supporting me and clapping me on, so I was happy at the end.”
Dixon plans to double major in electronic media and computer science, with a minor in physics.