The seniors in the Archer City High School Class of 2020 were the graduation trailblazers under the State of Texas COVID-19 guidelines. Governor Abbots orders on May 5 forced abandonment of the original plan in the high school auditorium. Last Friday’s outdoor ceremony at Wildcat Stadium turned into a stormy affair.
At 7:30pm last Friday the wind was blowing strongly enough for flags posted around the stadium to fly fully extended. Seniors began the Processional struggling to keep caps and gowns in place in the wind. The ceremony proceeded with prayers, pledges, and speeches, but was halted as violent storms moved into the area. If COVID-19 was not enough for the Class of 2020 to deal with, they now had their graduation exercises interrupted by tornado warning signals all over Archer City.
As Superintendent C.D. Knobloch closed down the ceremony he invited everyone back at 10am on Saturday morning. After his announcement violent weather ensued followed by torrential rain. The torrential rain was still falling at 10am last Saturday so school officials moved the starting time to 4pm hoping the rain would clear out by then. It was clearing out, but not completely, so at 4pm last Saturday the graduation ceremony was restarted with the Processional in a drizzling rain. As fate would have it the light rain continued until the last diploma was presented.
Despite the Friday night storm and the afternoon rain the Saturday graduation ceremony was completed without a hitch. Socially distanced parents and family in the north stands witnessed an emotional closure to the spring 2020 school year. The 34 seniors were seated on the field finally able to get the deserved recognition for their work over the years. As a right of passage to the next chapters in their lives this history making graduation ceremony will be one to remember.
Alyssa Casillas, a graduating senior, made a beautiful repeat performance of the Star-Spangled Banner. Tessa Brooks delivered the Valedictory Address and Breanna Howard gave the Salutatory Address. Both speeches were repeats of the Friday night wind blown addresses. Both speeches are printed in the Archer City High School Senior Edition in this week’s Archer County News.
Leslie Graham, Archer City High School Counselor, reported the Class of 2020 had earned over $300,000 in scholarships for the next level of education. After presentation of awards and scholarships an Archer City High School Diploma was awarded to each of the graduates. As each diploma was awarded the next graduate in line turned the tassel on the graduation cap from right to left to mark the completion of the shared journey. Superintendent C.D. Knobloch closed the ceremony with a benedictory prayer. With help of junior ushers Delaini Hanna and Carter Hilbers each senior was provided with roses to give to special people in their lives.
The Class of 2020 faced challenges never before faced by high school students. They lost opportunities in academic and athletic competition. They suffered through shelter in place guidelines missing time with friends. They missed proms and banquets promising to be highlights of their final year in school. The Class of 2020 came through it all with pride and dignity. Class of 2020 you make us all proud to have been able to share your journey. Good luck in the future.