Bay Area Schools Hold Creative Graduation Ceremonies Amid Pandemic

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From drive-through to virtual ceremonies, high school and college seniors graduated in the Bay Area Saturday in very unusual ways.

At Carondalet High School in Concord 200 graduates participated in a drive-through ceremony as the parade circled campus and a DJ played the students’ favorite sings. Girls at the all-female private school received a decorated cookie and a rose.

While 17-year-old Aryel Coats appreciated the effort, she had mixed feelings.

“It’s a little sad because I wanted to be with all my classmates,” Coats said through tears. “I wanted to walk with my friends. But it’s better than nothing, I feel blessed.”

High schools and colleges across the Bay Area are getting creative with graduation ceremonies amid the COVID-19 crisis. Many are doing drive-through ceremonies, and UC Berkeley is holding theirs on the game Minecraft. Marianne Favro reports.

Instead of walking onstage to accept a diploma tonight, high school senior Alena Jarrett was on national TV introducing celebrities.

She was part of a special salute to high school graduates that aired nationwide on NBC, featuring encouraging words from former President Barack Obama who urged grads not to be afraid.

“If you listen to the truth inside yourself, even when things are difficult, people will gravitate to you,” Obama said.

At Los Gatos High School, some students donned caps and gowns to take some final pictures on campus.

Andres Dewerk admitted that he was disappointed that there would be no traditional ceremony on the front lawn. Instead, he will sign up for a slot for a graduation walk that will air on TV in June.

At UC Berkeley graduates dressed up, took photos with family and friends, received balloons and donned caps. But the actual ceremony was far different than anything they could have imagined at the start of their senior year.

A group of current and former UC Berkeley students created a virtual Cal campus they call Blockley in the game of Minecraft where they held a virtual graduation in the game’s version of Memorial Stadium, which is normally packed with thousands of people.

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