Coronavirus pandemic forces Ontario high school to get creative with graduation ceremony amid physical distancing orders

With the academic year winding down, high schools are trying to find a way to hold graduation ceremonies amid physical distancing orders.
ONTARIO, Calif. (KABC) -- With the academic year winding down, high schools are trying to find a way to hold graduation ceremonies without breaking physical distancing orders in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Colony High School in Ontario is making it happen by hosting a drive-through graduation.

"We're not allowed to have mass gatherings, so we had to really become creative," said Superintendent Matthew Holton of the Chaffey Joint Union School District.

Each student is allowed to bring two vehicles, but only four family members are allowed to get out and take photos of the event.

The cars pull up near a stage where the student walks up to the principal and receives a diploma. A professional photographer also takes a picture, and the student and family return to their vehicle and leave.

"It's not what I expected when I first got to senior year, but it is what it is," graduating senior Bianca Abiel said.

For parents, the graduation ceremony was emotional, per usual. Families had just enough time for a few quick photos and applause before being hustled back into their cars.

"It certainly is a different graduation," said Eileen Arrieta. "Crazy! But at least we were able to have something for the kids."

Parent Jessica Arseneault echoed that sentiment.

"You didn't think it was that important until you couldn't have one and now it's a memory, it's a mark, a landmark. So I think its great," she said.

The drive-through ceremony takes considerably more time than a standard graduation, so Colony High divided it into two days.

After five hours of handing out diplomas on Thursday, the administrators will be back for another five hours on Friday.
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