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The City Journals

Commencements looks different, yet familiar during pandemic as schools determine ceremonies

May 20, 2021 09:42AM ● By Julie Slama

This year’s commencement at Waterford School will likely resemble the one shown here from last spring. (Photo courtesy of Waterford School)

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

All the pomp and circumstance will be outside for the graduating seniors of Waterford School, Jordan High School, and Paradigm High to reduce the chance of COVID-19 transmission. 

“We will be having our graduation ceremony outside on our Sandy campus this year, similar to how we did it last year, but we will likely be able to welcome more guests,” said Amanda Apple, Waterford’s director of marketing and communications. “We have not finalized all the details yet because we continue to experience a changing landscape of guidelines, but we plan to follow all Utah State Health Department and CDC guidelines to maintain all the testing, distancing, and masking protocols mandated.”

The Waterford ceremony for 73 seniors is planned for 7:30 p.m., Friday, June 4.

Senior orchestra members will perform as well as the vocal ensemble, Troubadours, and select third- through fifth-grade students will perform the song, “Irish Blessing.”

A senior speaker has yet to be named.

As of mid-April, Jordan High planned to host two graduation ceremonies, one on Wednesday, May 26 and the other, on Thursday, May 27, weather-permitting. Times to be determined. 

“Our ceremony will be on the football field, as we have done some years ago,” Principal Wendy Dau said, adding that families will sign up for which night they prefer to attend. “This will allow families to have four tickets. If for some reason, the capacity of the stadium can go higher to say 50% , we will push the graduation to a single night on Wednesday. It will be as close to a traditional graduation ceremony as we can create.”

In case of inclement weather, commencement will move to the school auditorium with dates and times to be determined.

The theme is “Dig the Moment.”

Graduation speakers include Valedictorian Kira Brooks; Salutatorian Megan DuVal; Senior Class President Davion Washington; Student body President Brooklyn Wagner; Graduate of Promise for Latinos in Action Vanessa Gonzalez Pliego; and Graduate of Promise for AVID – Neema Delphine; and seniors Michelle Dominguez and Taylor Tilby.

The commencement also will be livestreamed. 

A free dinner-dance with fireworks will be held for seniors that week; the date has yet to be set. Students attending will be COVID-19 tested before being allowed to participate, Dau said.

About 70 Paradigm High students are scheduled to graduate at the outdoor amphitheater in Thanksgiving Point’s Ashton Gardens at 6:30 p.m., Friday, May 28.

Tickets are required; each graduating senior will receive four complimentary tickets and families have the option to purchase up to six more at $12 each. 

The ceremony also will be livestreamed on Paradigm’s YouTube channel. Graduation speakers will be selected in May. 

American Heritage of South Jordan will celebrate nine seniors at its graduation at 6 p.m., Wednesday, May 26 at The Azalea in Daybreak in South Jordan. Tickets are not required.

To the east, Juan Diego Catholic High plans to hold its traditional ceremony on Saturday, May 29. Attendance is by ticket only. 

In Midvale, Hillcrest High will hold its commencement at 9 a.m., Wednesday, May 26. Other details haven’t been announced.

Jordan Valley School families are welcome to celebrate the four 2021 and eight 2020 graduates at its commencement exercises on 10 a.m., Friday, May 21 in Midvale Middle School’s auditorium. 

Nearby at Cottonwood High, 338 graduating seniors voted to hold a traditional commencement together, which will be held at 1 p.m., Thursday, June 3 in the school auditorium. Seniors will be able to invite up to five guests and tickets will be distributed when students pick up their caps and gowns.

The program will include two senior speakers, selected following the May 13 auditions, as well as the valedictorian, salutatorian, senior class president and the student body president. Live music will be provided by the Madrigals and the combined orchestra and band.

The evening of graduation, Cottonwood’s PTSA graduation night committee will hold “Grad Night at All Star Bowling” in West Valley City. Graduates will be bussed at 10 p.m. and the bus will return at 3 a.m., Friday, June 4. 

As of press deadline, several other area high school administrators were still determining commencement plans.