High schoolers in Minnesota come up with creative solutions for graduation

A moving stage. A drive-thru prom photo shoot. A trip to the White House. Here's what we saw from local students last week.
Author:
Publish date:
Fergus Falls High School band director Scott Kummrow performed the 22 parts for "Pomp and Circumstance" and compiled them into a video for graduation celebrations.

Fergus Falls High School band director Scott Kummrow performed the 22 parts for "Pomp and Circumstance" and compiled them into a video for graduation celebrations.

Minnesota high schoolers have been deprived of their proms and graduation ceremonies by COVID-19, but have been dreaming up socially distanced celebrations since the pandemic began. 

We've seen drive-by celebrations, chalk drawings and virtual parties. Last week, a few new approaches emerged. Here's a recap of events you may have missed:   

A mobile stage

In Victoria, Holy Catholic Family High School invited families of its 78 graduates to park on the track for its May 21 ceremony. Officials spoke from the center of the field. Then, two pick-up trucks, each pulling a small stage, stopped by each car. One at a time, graduates picked up a diploma from a table, posed for a photo and crossed the stage. Fireworks capped off the evening. 

Holy Family President Michael Brennan told Southwest News Media that he and his staff prioritized maintain the tradition of walking across a stage in their planning. 

“We pivoted,” Brennan said. “The mobile stage concept — that’s what allowed us to make it happen.”

The event was planned in compliance with guidelines from the Minnesota departments of Health and Education, as well as from the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis and local officials, Southwest News Media reports. 

A red carpet walk-through

In St. Paul, Brian Ingram's Hope Breakfast Bar hosted a drive-by red carpet walk for would-be prom-goers on Saturday.

A band performed as seniors posed for pictures in front of an ice sculpture. They also got a free take-out meal, the restaurant said. 

A White House visit

On Friday, two high school graduates from nearby Ellsworth, Wisconsin, reportedly attended a graduation ceremony for 20 high school and college grads at the White House.

The two were invited after word spread of their "impromptu prom" at a senior living facility. There, the certified nursing assistants wore their dresses and danced for residents. 

“I’m still processing it all,” Rachel Leonard told RiverTown Multimedia. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I’ll definitely be telling this story to my kids some day.”

Making virtual celebrations special

The Minnesota Departments of Education and Health released guidelines for drive-by and parking lot celebrations earlier this month, but emphasized schools are encouraged to stick to virtual methods.

After a ceremony that deviated from MDH's guidance, it was found that someone who unknowingly had the coronavirus helped set up and was in contact with organizers, MDH announced Saturday. 

"Graduations are emotional events that can come with unpredictable social behavior. As we have seen with attempted in-person ceremonies, even the best laid plans cannot account for the human reaction of students rushing to hug classmates who they have not seen in a long time," said Kris Ehresmann, epidemiologist and director of MDH's Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Prevention, and Control Division. 

Luckily, the digital natives of the class of 2020 are no stranger to communicating online. Hopkins High School students held a promdemic, in which they dressed up and posted photos on social media. A student at Champlin Park High School created a website where students, parents and teachers can share memories and other notes, the Star Tribune reported

Days after the state issued its guidelines for graduations, the Minnesota Orchestra released a video and recording of "Pomp and Circumstance," performed remotely, for schools. It has since been downloaded more than 800 times, with some schools located in Wisconsin, Ohio and Canada, the Star Tribune reported

Likewise, Fergus Falls High School band director Scott Kummrow performed each of the piece's 22 parts separately, compiling them into a YouTube video that has received over 40,000 views. 

In St. Paul, a Johnson High School parent created a Facebook group where community members can coordinate donating or funding items that seniors would have received at their all-night graduation party, the Pioneer Press reported

Red Wing High School has posted photos and individualized messages for graduates on its Facebook page. Local businesses have also organized ways to celebrate the grads, including free pizza and cake, decorations downtown and a socially distanced parade.  

“It’s small-town pride,” Liberty's Restaurant owner Doug Noreen told RiverTown Multimedia. 

Next Up

covid-19, coronavirus

Here is Minnesota's COVID-19 update for Wednesday, Jan. 27

The latest update from the state health department.

charley's

Charges: Bar owner, employee served underage drinkers during shutdown

The bar hosted 20-30 people on Dec. 4, 2020, charges say.

police lights

Driver wearing bulletproof vest strikes pedestrian in Rochester

The 21-year-old claimed the vest keeps him warm, according to police.

Screen Shot 2019-08-19 at 8.08.05 PM

6 men charged in connection to 'disturbing trend' of carjackings, shootings

The men are accused of three carjackings in one day, as well as other crimes.

YouTube TV, FSN

Report: Fox Sports North is becoming Bally Sports North

The rebranding will reportedly happen prior to the start of the MLB season.

walmart mask

Wisconsin Senate votes to end statewide mask mandate

The joint resolution now heads to the Republican-controlled state assembly.

P.J. Fleck

Looks like the Gophers can put Fleck-to-Tennessee rumors to rest

Fleck is annually a hot commodity when coaching jobs open up.

Matt Dumba

Wild drop front end of back-to-back with Kings

The Wild lost consecutive games for the first time this season.

Andrelton Simmons / Minnesota Twins

Twins sign Andrelton Simmons to one-year deal

The former Angels shortstop is a four-time Gold Glove winner.

Related

graduation, pandemic

High school graduations: What schools can and can't do

Here's MDE's guidelines for in-person ceremonies

graduation, pandemic

Person with COVID-19 involved with MN graduation ceremony

A health official said the ceremony was conducted against health guidance.

ElectricFetusrecords

For anniversary sale, Electric Fetus turns to reservations

With a $25 donation to local nonprofits, customers can reserve a time slot to browse records at the iconic shop

Hastings_High_School

As coronavirus cases surge, more districts shift back to distance learning

Hastings is among the latest school districts to switch back

graduation-2038864_1280

Coronavirus: MN confirms ban on large-scale graduation ceremonies

It wants schools to offer virtual ceremonies, or parade-style options.

CJ-AHyggeHoliday-Photo2

With the help of HVAC, Circus Juventas will host its first holiday shows

After months of canceled classes and shows, Circus Juventas is hosting its first ever holiday show, with safety precautions.

graduation-2038864_1280

Minnesota's high school graduation rate has hit a new high

More students than ever are graduating within four years, though disparities remain.

restaurant-602894_1280

22 bars, restaurants added to list of those linked to COVID-19 outbreaks

The Minnesota Department of Health has recorded 51 bars and restaurants tied to coronavirus outbreaks.