SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — High school seniors all over Utah are facing a harsh reality–no more school. No more precious time to spend with friends. And maybe, a virtual graduation ceremony taking the place of the typical pomp and circumstance.
No school, no sports
It all comes after Governor Gary Herbert ordered schools closed for the remainder of the academic year. Additionally, all spring sports are officially shut down.
Nonetheless, some students are pushing back. Cyprus High School’s Student Body Secretary Chloe Koehler is leading the “anti-virtual graduation” movement. Her petition is asking for safe, in-person graduation ceremonies.
It reads in part: “As we move forward, we are hopeful that the pandemic will ease enough for us to have at least one experience we’ve looked forward to most of our lives…an in-person graduation ceremony.”
Grassroots graduation movement
According to Koehler, she started the petition just to see how many other students shared her same feelings.
“Our main idea with writing the petition was to see how many other seniors felt like we did,” she explained. “With wanting to have an actual special ceremony, rather than just reverting to a virtual one.”
In no time, the movement exploded and is continuing to generate interest.
“Obviously, there’s a lot more than I thought there would be at this time,” she said. “By the end of the first night, I think there was 1,500 signatures. I wasn’t expecting that at all.”
As of Wednesday afternoon, the petition has over 7,000 signatures. That’s only a few hundred away from their overall goal.
“I think that we should take it to the state school board once we get to our goal of 7,500,” said Koehler.
Instead of a virtual ceremony, they feel a few other options are available. One is simply waiting to see if restrictions pertaining to the coronavirus outbreak start to loosen over time.
“I think that waiting for the summer is totally feasible,” she believes.
Another option could be holding an in-person ceremony at the high school, but with fewer guests.
Whatever the answer is, Koehler and thousands of other seniors across the state, are hoping to hold onto this one tradition before they transition into a world filled with so much uncertainty.