MPCS hosts virtual graduations for class of 2020

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Graduating seniors participate in Whitman's car parade at Westfield Montgomery mall

By Vishnu Dandi

Montgomery County is hosting virtual graduation ceremonies for seniors from June 8 to June 12, after a county-wide celebration on June 7. 

To kick off graduation week, MCPS hosted a live, county-wide recognition event for the 10,500 outgoing seniors. José Andrés, a world-renowned chef and the founder of World Central Kitchen, delivered the commencement speech. Whitman’s seniors will officially graduate on Friday, June 12, at 2 pm. 

In preparation for the ceremonies, the Whitman administration distributed caps and gowns to seniors from May 26 through June 5. Picking up graduation attire went smoothly and only took a few minutes, senior Nate Olson said. 

After MCPS announced a virtual graduation in early May, seniors around the county were disheartened. However, some remain enthusiastic for a virtual graduation. 

“It’s safer to do graduation online,” senior Hannah Donner said. “I’m excited, although I would prefer to graduate with my friends.” 

 In addition to the county-planned graduation ceremony, the Whitman Parent Teacher Student Association organized a car parade on June 8, which started at 2 p.m. in the parking lot of the Westfield Montgomery mall. 

The PTSA has organized the car parade to commemorate the seniors’ determination and dedication throughout high school, even in this trying time.

A group of moms of seniors were very disappointed that our kids were missing out on an in-person graduation,” said Arielle Grill, the coordinator of the car parade. “We saw car parades being planned around the country and thought it would be a fun way for our seniors to celebrate in the COVID-19 environment.”

Although Whitman has a devoted and well-funded PTSA, not all schools across the county have been afforded the same benefits. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused occupational instability, economic uncertainty and dire health consequences. Some communities in MCPS are unable to provide their seniors with the modified graduation experience Whitman students receive. 

“This event was completely organized and funded by parents without the school’s support,” Grill said. “Unfortunately, not every school has this opportunity.”