Orcutt Academy High School graduates say farewell to senior year with drive-in theater-style graduation

Posted at 5:45 AM, Jun 05, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-05 11:26:42-04

Due to the impacts from Covid-19, traditional graduation ceremonies are being reworked. Like many other schools, Orcutt Academy High School was faced with the decision on what to do to honor and celebrate the class of 2020. Rhett Carter, OAHS principal, said when it came time to make a decision on how the graduation ceremony would play out for high school seniors, he thought of the associated student body.

"Everything we've given them they've taken on and it's cool because they want to take it on, they want to be involved in things," Carter said.

A Zoom call between two graduating ASB students, Carter, and the district superintendent, and the idea to have a drive-in theater style graduation on June 5 was created.

"The staff is pushing really hard to get it done, we're pushing really hard, so I think it will be good in the end," Hayley Parker, OAHS graduating senior, said.

Nearly two weeks ago, over the course of two days, high school seniors recorded their high school graduation, complete with caps and gowns, diplomas, and speeches from the valedictorian.

"I think two days, seven hours at least each days, recording students, recording speeches," Carter said. "This week they're editing all that which is going to take 25 to30 hours to edit."

When the entire product is finished, it will be shown on a big screen, drive-in theater style. Carter says around 150 cars filled with graduates and their families will drive onto the field at the high school Friday night to watch the graduation. Graduates and their families will stay in their cars during the ceremony to maintain social distancing.

"It's obviously not the ideal graduation, but I think we're really lucky to be able to do something like this," Ariana Cross, a graduating senior, said.

The ceremony isn't something graduating seniors expected when the school year started but had to plan for when school closure began in March.

"It became very apparent that we weren't coming back and it became less sulking about it more about trying to make the best of it," Nathan Calhoun, ASB President and graduating senior, said.

While the year has had its challenges for these seniors, no doubt, they've learned to make the best out of unexpected situations.

"I think when I look back on it in a couple years, I'll definitely know that i became stronger from it," Taylor Martinez, graduating senior, said.