GRANGER, Iowa — Much of the class of 2020 is missing out on graduation ceremonies after traditional commencements were upended by the coronavirus pandemic, but educators and family looked to make the day a celebration to remember.
Woodward-Granger High School principal Robert Boley and his colleagues decided they would bring the ceremony to their students. Each and every one of them.
Boley starting delivering diplomas along with a single rose to students around 6 a.m. Sunday in order to make it to all 48 students’ homes. There, they held mini-ceremonies with families and neighbors cheering their graduates on.
“Graduation in our front lawn will be one we won’t forget,” senior Katelyn Bandstra said. “It’s not what we wanted, but we’re just happy we could do this together.”
Bandstra, along with three other classmates and neighbors, Jenay Jones, Quinn Kauffman and Jayden Dorenkamp, got to celebrate the big day together. They said although missing the formal ceremony was a disappointment, the support their community has shown was the most uplifting.
“We’re a lot luckier than some schools. We’re small enough to do this and it would take other schools a couple days to get around the neighborhood,” Kauffman said.
The graduates talked about the letters, gifts and outpouring of support they’ve received from the entire community. They describe their class as a tight-knit group, something that is “a given” when it’s a class of 48.
“This day showcases our small town community,” Bandstra said. “We’re much more of a family than a school.”
It’s a school with educators who are just as proud as the parents. Boley beamed with pride when describing the characteristics of the class of 2020.
“You see them come in as freshmen, maybe not the most mature, but watch them grow,” he said. “These kids have challenged and pushed each other everywhere in the school and they’ve been a joy to be around.”