I’ve always thought that graduation would be an extravagant celebration of our four years at Diamond Bar High School. Yet when the administration first announced that we would be transitioning to online learning on March 13, I was glad. It meant that we would be able to take a short hiatus from our stressful classes, almost like having multiple senior ditch days in a row, and eventually return to say goodbye to our friends and classmates.

As time went on, it became impossible to return, much less have prom, grad night or even graduation. 

On May 28, DBHS held its virtual graduation for its seniors with many virtual senior activities, including allowing students to decorate their caps, hanging Class of 2020 posters, hosting a virtual senior talent show and lighting up the stadium on Fridays. Although this was an unprecedented situation, DBHS handled graduation and the celebration of its seniors to the best of its ability, which in other words was adequate. 

The actual graduation ceremony was how I imagined it to be: underwhelming. But that was to be expected, however, since it was a video. Though I had seen pictures of other in-person, socially-distanced graduations, I don’t think putting each senior six feet apart on the football field was a choice for DBHS due to its large class size. Otherwise, the slideshow of pictures and teachers speaking made me nostalgic, and the ceremony proceeded smoothly. And while displaying our yearbook pictures for over a thousand people to see was a bit embarrassing, it was fun to cheer whenever a familiar face popped up. 

Unlike the pre-ceremony processional, in which we took an hour to pick up awards and diploma covers, the Purple Parade was quick and full of energy. Though I had expected the school parking lot to be filled with traffic and frustration as it had in the morning, I was met with cheers from teachers and a breath of fresh air as I stood up out of the car’s sunroof. Furnished with flashing lights, sparklers, glow sticks and music, the parade was extremely fun to drive through for a last celebration. 

Overall, it was the little things—the Performing Arts Academy putting together a virtual performance of “Pomp and Circumstance,” staff members cheering with glow sticks, being able to wear the cap that I carefully decorated, personally receiving my diploma cover from a GLC and walking across a stage—that made the graduation feel like an actual celebration. Through this, I could feel that the school genuinely wanted to celebrate the seniors and not simply graduate us all.

Though it could not replace a stadium full of cheering friends and family, the virtual graduation ceremony and the promise of one last party to say goodbye was enough to close out my high school experience.