The members of the Riverside-Brookfield High School Class of 2020 will get a chance to walk across a stage in their caps and gowns after all. This week, high school officials announced that they will set up a stage adjacent to the school's auto shop for graduates to walk across when they come to the staff parking lot on May 29 to pick up their diplomas.
After students drive through the staff parking lot and are handed their diplomas, they will be allowed to get out of their cars on Golf Road and walk up the stairs to a stage that has been rented for the occasion.
There, they can pick up a diploma cover while RBHS officials in gowns on stage congratulate them. A professional photographer will be on hand to capture the moment.
When they walk off the stage they will get back in the family car and leave the campus. Family members will not be allowed to get out of their cars during the event. Teachers and other staff members will line Golf Road to congratulate and recognize the graduates.
"We may have the students pick up the diploma from the table or maybe if we're six feet away we can find a way a way to hand it to them somehow, but we're going to make sure we're respecting all the social distancing and all the health law and codes," said RBHS Principal Hector Freytas.
Freytas said the plan for a walk across a stage came as result of input from students and parents.
"This is what the community asked for," Freytas said. "When you walk across a stage, that's the finale, you did it, that's the moment, and we wanted to capture that moment authentically."
RBTV will televise a virtual graduation ceremony starting at 6:30 p.m. on Friday. If state regulations permit gatherings of 1,000 people or more on June 29, the school will hold an outdoor graduation ceremony at the Kennelly Athletic Complex on that date.
If students do not pick them up on May 29, their diplomas will be mailed.
Graduating seniors seem happy about having a chance to walk across a stage.
"I think it's a nice gesture considering we don't know what these next few weeks will hold," said Kenna Howorth, a senior from Brookfield. "I really appreciate that they're trying to make things work out for us even if they're not exactly how we pictured graduation to be. I still think it will be a good experience overall."
Taylor Jurgens, a senior from Riverside who served as the president of the RBHS student government this year, also said that she appreciated having a chance to walk across a stage.
"I think that idea is really nice and exciting," Jurgens said, noting that walking across a stage makes graduation more personal.
District 208 school board President Wes Smithing also was happy that graduates will be able to walk across a stage in their caps and gowns.
"I think that's very exciting," Smithing said during Tuesday's school board meeting after Freytas announced the plan. "I'm glad we got the stage and I'm glad we're going to do the drive-thru. I'm glad it's working out for us."