Durham schools prepare to hold some ‘drive-in’ graduation ceremonies at malls

Durham County News

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — As the end of the school year approaches, high schools in Durham are making graduation plans that will include both drive-in and drive-through ceremonies for high school seniors.

Seniors at Hillside High School were picking up their caps and gowns in a “drive-through” setting at the school on Friday afternoon.

After spending the last month learning from home, Ariana Gentry said that this has not been the senior year she had hoped for.

“I’ve worked hard for 12 years, it just sucks that it can’t be the way it should be done,” Gentry said.

Due to COVID-19, Gentry realizes that a traditional graduation is out of the question.

“Just like for everything to get snatched away from you just in the blink of an eye, it’s just nerve breaking,” Gentry said.

But the high schools will be holding some kind of ceremony for their seniors.

“We’re mixing and matching certain things that work better with different schools,” said Chip Sudderth, a spokesman for Durham Public Schools.

Some schools will be holding drive-in ceremonies that will take place in the parking lot at Southpoint Mall.

The drive-in graduations will include a stage with a large screen and amplifiers. Students will be able to walk along a marked pathway to get their diplomas. Families will remain in the car.

Other schools will be holding “drive-through” graduations that will mostly take place at the schools. During these ceremonies, students will remain in the car and they will drive up to get their diploma. It is up to the school whether the students can get out of the car to receive it.

Some schools will have both a drive-through graduation that will also include a virtual ceremony online with pre-recorded speeches and photos.

While it is not ideal, senior Dizni DeBerry said she is excited to have some kind of celebration.

“It’s just another adjustment we have to make, and it’s for the better for everybody,” DeBerry said. “I’m just grateful that at least we’re still graduating and having a ceremony.

DeBerry’s mother, Karlette Dandy-Brewster, said she is grateful to the district for their efforts to provide a graduation ceremony for the students.

“I think the class of 2020 is going to hit the map hard because of the struggles they’ve been through,” Dandy-Brewster said. “They’ll come out on top.”

Sudderth said right now it is too early to say if there will be a limit on how many people can attend the drive-in and drive through graduations.

For more information on when and where certain graduation ceremonies will be held, click on this link.

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