For senior students at Destrehan and Hahnville high schools, it seems it will be better late than never.
For weeks, there were concerns that the Class of 2020 would go without the traditional walk across the stage to receive their diplomas due to COVID-19 restrictions and safety concerns. But plans are tentatively in place to make graduation day a reality on July 11, assuming no setbacks related to COVID-19 and that government and health officials will allow for it.
Destrehan High School’s graduation is set for 1 p.m. on July 11 at the Pontchartrain Center in Kenner. Hahnville High’s ceremony will follow at 6 p.m. that evening at the same venue. Originally, the ceremonies were to be held in mid-May.
While seniors have already officially received their diplomas, the move to postpone rather than cancel the ceremonies has been popular. St. Charles Parish Superintendent Dr. Ken Oertling said while alternative ideas were discussed, it became clear so many in the school community felt strongly in favor of having a traditional ceremony.
“We’re super excited about it … we had ideas about potentially having a drive through type of thing, some other ideas, but everyone we polled felt it was very important to have it celebrated in person and to have an actual ceremony,” Oertling said. “I think it’s an amazing opportunity, to be back with our students who we miss so much. It’s a way to kind of turn that page, officially, to the next chapter of their life.”
Hahnville senior Yelah Moses said she was thrilled to hear the news.
“I was actually very excited,” said Moses, who recently signed with Delgado on a basketball scholarship. “I have something to look forward to. I’ve been training since quarantine started to stay in shape … usually we’re having track season, but unfortunately that ended with the close of school. So it’s a chance to see everyone again, and then a month later I’ll be moving on campus at Delgado. It’ll be an exciting time.”
Fellow Tigers senior Cameron Cunningham called it a way to provide closure. The lack of that left a void for him with the close of school and the sudden end to his senior year.
“It really hurt. I thought when we first got out that we’d have the chance to go back,” Cunningham said. “So I was really happy to hear we were going to have a graduation. It’s one more time to see all my friends together. It’s a chance for us to see all the teachers who we haven’t had a chance to have that last time with. Just being able to see all of my friends have the opportunity to walk across the stage is very uplifting for me. Just being able to have some closure is big.”
Destrehan senior Miranda Hall said she was overjoyed at the news.
“I honestly thought we’d have to do a virtual graduation, like so many colleges have had to do,” Hall said. “So when I found out we were doing an in person graduation and my family was coming to see me, I just started crying because of how happy I was. I’m really looking forward to seeing everyone I never had a chance to say goodbye to. I was really upset at the idea none of my family would have been able to see it.”