Before March 8th, Google didn’t have enough data to graph the use of the search phrase “virtual graduation ceremonies”. Since then, the trend line is nearly vertical. Traditional graduations complete the list of milestones missed by the class of 2020. To honor their students’ achievements — while still adhering to CDC and state COVID-19 safety guidelines — families, teachers, and school administrators are creating virtual, livestream, and drive-by events. These three schools in Portland, Oregon, took different approaches to virtual graduations, hosting four memorable and special ceremonies for their students.
Oregon Episcopal School 5th and 8th Grade Promotion Ceremonies
Date: June 5, 2020
Location/Format: In-Studio Livestream
OES 5th and 8th graders watched from their homes as they were honored and promoted to the next grade during ceremonies streamed live from The AV Department studio.
A fun highlight of the 5th grade ceremony was a slideshow of each student shown today alongside their baby photo. Pre-recorded videos of the processional, Virtual Choir Anthem, and recessional were included between the live welcome, opening prayer and remarks, and the reading of each student’s name. The livestream of the students’ promotion to middle school was hosted by school administrators and OES fifth grade teachers.
The 8th grade ceremony began with the recorded processional, followed by live welcome and opening remarks. Peer-selected eighth grade speakers recorded their speeches in advance. Their videos were played during the program along with recorded musical performances. The live Presentation of Eight Grade Students for Promotion featured the Head of the Middle School announcing each student individually.
Two cameras captured the virtual events.
Jesuit High School Class of 2020 Graduation
Date: June 6, 2020
Location/Format: On-Campus Livestream
With a carefully mapped and staggered arrival schedule, graduating seniors of Jesuit High School were able to walk across the stage and receive their diplomas in a virtual graduation that featured a recorded opening program and a live commencement ceremony.
Each member of the Class of 2020 and their two guests walked a path of memories through campus, stopping for photos before crossing the stage in the school theatre and receiving their diploma. Recorded content included speeches by the senior class speakers and a senior memory slideshow. During the live ceremony, photo interludes recalled pre-pandemic senior activities, trips, and team sports.
Four cameras captured the event. During the livestream, families were shown arriving in the plaza and waiting outside the theatre for the student’s name to be announced. In the theatre, a wide-focus shot showed the entire stage, while close-ups were shown via a fourth camera. The tech area outside the theatre included stations for audio, livestream, and graphic technicians.
Northwest Academy Class of 2020 Commencement
Date: June 7, 2020
Location/Format: In-Studio Livestream
While wearing masks and maintaining physical distance, Northwest Academy seniors walked the stage and received their diplomas in a live graduation ceremony that included a pre-recorded commencement address and three senior speeches. One at a time, the students entered the studio with their immediate families for the presentation of diplomas by the Head of School and the Head of High School. Before each graduate walked the stage, a tribute to the student written collectively by the NW Academy faculty and staff was read. Following the ceremony, families and friends were invited to join a car parade to cheer on the graduates.
Two cameras in the studio and one focused on students outside captured the event.
Congratulations to all students!