Another school year has come and gone. As COVID-19 restrictions ease, Atascadero High School becomes one of the first high schools on the Central Coast to hold an in-person graduation ceremony since the start of the pandemic.
“It feels good! It’s so exciting!” exclaimed Atascadero High School graduates.
Atascadero High School grads say being able to celebrate in person means a lot after an incredibly tough year.
“I’m really happy that they put it together. Even if we have to wear masks, it’s still an amazing experience,” said Atascadero High School graduate Jillian Paredes.
“I feel a lot better. Seeing everyone together is really really nice compared to how it was last year,” said Atascadero High School graduate Tristan Begin.
Last year, Atascadero High School held a drive-by graduation ceremony. The Principal of Atascadero High School, Dan Andrus, says they have been planning for an in-person graduation since California came out with the state commencement guidelines in mid April.
“Our kids missed a lot this year. We feel like if we’re able to do the work to put on a traditional graduation, we ought to do the work,” said Andrus.
Masks were required for entry. Graduates were allowed to take their masks off when they received their diplomas.
And for those cheering in the stands, Atascadero High School allowed four guests from the graduates immediate households. And each household unit had to be kept 6 feet apart.
With all of the safety protocols in place, many families were just proud to be part of this special moment for their graduates.
Luis Lopez is a proud father of an Atascadero graduate. He said, “He’s like second generation, second generation high school in our family so I am really happy,”
As for how the class of 2021 feels now that they’ve graduated, Begin added, “[I’m] scared and relieved. Relieved for the act that I can finally move on with my life. Scared for the act that I have to move on with my life.”
Principal Andrus said he hopes this in-person graduation creates a sense of normalcy and hope for graduates, as they move on to the next chapter of their lives.