The family of Princeton High School seniors gathered on May 29 to watch the Class of 2020 come together as a group for the first time in several months.
While the small class didn’t complete their senior year in a traditional setting, even for a small school, Principal Corey Williams said the 14 graduates did what they needed to complete nearly 13 years of school.
“They earned their diplomas,” he said. “It wasn’t a ‘give me’ at the end.”
While the seniors walked and sat the appropriate six feet apart, the physical distance recommended to avoid spreading COVID-19, families sat inside or just outside their vehicles, parked in the Agriculture Barn parking lot, in keeping with the state guidelines for high school graduations.
It was enough to prompt Valedictorian Jaqueline Reynoso to welcome, at the start of her address, the many Fords, Toyotas, Kias, Nissons and other makes of vehicles to their graduation ceremony. And while she said senior year on March 17 was ripped away from them in a blink of an eye, Princeton students were blessed with such a caring community who worked to make up for the losses of the past few months, and provided them with a thoughtful final ceremony.
“They didn’t let this be the end for the Class of 2020,” she said. “They were persistent in finding a way to have a safe graduation in the middle of this pandemic. For that, we are extremely grateful.”
As the senior with the highest level of academic achievement, Reynoso offered words of advice to students who will go back to school in August. She encouraged freshmen to participate in sports and activities, and encouraged sophomores and juniors to try new things, socialize with every grade group, volunteer, step out of their comfort zone, and discover who they are. To the incoming seniors, she encouraged them to cherish every single moment of their final year.
“Before you know it, you will be the one up on the stage,” she said.
Salutatorian Steven Groteguth added comedic relief to the unusual ceremony, addressing his classmates, who sat spread out in the bleachers, with a spoofed version of his and their futures.
At the end, he added that they all had a lot of potential and hoped they would take pride in graduating from Princeton High School.
Seniors Karissa Lutz and Diego Cervantez presided over the ceremony, which was broadcasted over the radio and live on Facebook so the entire community could cheer them on as they take their next steps in life. Most of the graduates plan to go on to college.