Willoughby-Eastlake Schools hosts downsized ceremonies

Mimi Promo Willoughby May

By Patricia Nugent

Graduation is called “commencement” as it’s both an ending and a beginning. The ceremony marks the sending off of our students to go make their mark in the world and break free from the cocoon we’ve provided for them. The experience is truly a once-in-a-lifetime milestone. Along with their families, students have been waiting many years to don their cap and gown and walk across the stage.

Rather than cancel or postpone graduation for the Class of 2020, in a masterful feat of organization, the administrative staff at Willoughby-Eastlake Schools has put together a special ceremony for North and South High School students at the Performing Arts Center.

“Despite the fact that Covid-19 brought an abrupt end to our school year as we know it, the staff, families and community members throughout Willoughby-Eastlake are creating new memories for the Class of 2020,” says Superintendent Steve Thompson. “We are truly grateful to those that are working so diligently to find new ways to celebrate our seniors.”

Spread over four evenings, Tuesday, May 26, through Friday, May 29, going in groups of 10, students and their families (masked and practicing social distancing) will be scheduled every 15 minutes. Families will watch from the audience as their student goes up on the stage, picks up their diploma and poses for a photo.

And to make the ceremony that much more special, a program will be taped in advance with speeches from each principal and student speakers. Along with footage of senior highlight moments, the program will be broadcast on Channel 43 WUAB over the summer.

In addition to the graduation festivities, the community came together for a special car parade for seniors, complete with police escort.

“On behalf of Willoughby-Eastlake, I wish our seniors well as they embark on the next chapter of their lives,” he adds. “Stay safe and stay well seniors.”

Willoughby-Eastlake School District is the largest in Lake County, with approximately 8,500 students. Check out the school system’s Facebook page for an outpouring of well wishes and heartwarming videos from teachers, families and friends in the community. For details, visit WESchools.org.