Seniors celebrate at in-person graduation


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This is the amphitheater at Jiffy Lube Live where seniors will conduct their 2021 graduation ceremony

Shreeja Tangutur, Academics Editor

A memorable day for many high school seniors is marked in June: graduation. A symbol of hard work and perseverance, this day signifies the exploration of different paths, whether that’s continuing their education at college or heading straight towards the workforce. 

Graduation is a celebration of past memories, experiences and work. In 2020, the graduation ceremony was held online, where students sent in pictures of themselves to receive their diploma virtually. The ceremony also had keynote speakers such as superintendent Dr. Scott Brabrand, school board members and class sponsors. 

While details about this year’s graduation are still being finalized, the ceremony for the Class of 2021 will be held at Jiffy Lube Live, an amphitheater in Prince William County. The celebration will take place on June 2 with a 90-minute event starting at 7:30 p.m. This location was chosen for a variety of reasons, the main one being that Jiffy Lube Live’s spacious venue allows for a larger seating capacity compared to the school’s stadium.  

“Students and families are welcomed to participate in a socially distanced [and] masked event that will surely celebrate our amazing Class of 2021,” Class of 2021 teacher sponsor Cami Zottola said. 

Graduation has been modified to accommodate the revised social distancing guidelines. Jiffy Lube Live has enforced a 3,500 person limit which includes students, staff members, family members of graduates and employees. As per this restriction, students are only allowed to bring six guests with them. In addition, there will not be musical performances by the chorus, band or orchestra in order to maintain the limit at Jiffy Lube Live. 

“Despite the [precautionary measures], Jiffy Lube Live gave everyone the best chance to graduate together and gave us the chance to bring in as many guests as possible compared to other venues,” principal Scott Poole said.    

Throughout the year, seniors have been celebrating their accomplishments with engaging events. 

“We have also been having monthly events here at school, including Bingo and “Seniors are Cruisin” where seniors could wave to their teachers, get snacks/goodies and decorate their cars,” Zottola said. 

In addition to the graduation ceremony, many seniors will participate in several activities leading up to graduation, including senior breakfast and the rehearsal graduation, which will both take place at Chantilly High school. While the information about the senior breakfast is still underway, the rehearsal graduation will take place on June 1. 

This year’s graduation ceremony will have many aspects of a “normal” ceremony. There will be the entrance of the graduates and faculty. Thereafter, the senior class officer, senior class president and senior class honor speaker will present their speeches. The school will also continue its custom of having a staff member as a guest speaker during the ceremony. Awards will then be given out for seniors to honor graduates, followed by the calling of names and the tradition of students throwing their graduation caps in the air. 

“Usually, the student would receive their diploma and I would shake their hand,” Poole said. “To prevent the spread of COVID-19, this year, I will just be handing the diploma.” 

As this year’s graduation will be different from previous celebrations due to COVID-19, the Class of 2021 and class sponsors are working to create a ceremony that will be as protected as possible.

“The main priority of graduation this year is to celebrate the Class of 2021,” Zottola said. “Despite it being different, it will be a perfect representation of just how much we have overcome this year as a school, community and society.”