Tacoma Public Schools celebrates high school seniors with cap and gown parades

Tacoma high school seniors celebrate graduation with drive-thru ceremony

TACOMA, Wash. — Tacoma Public Schools said it plans to celebrate and honor its graduating Class of 2020 seniors at each high school starting Wednesday.

The district will hold parades for the seniors as they pick up their caps and gown at their high schools. Families are encouraged to make this a celebratory event by decorating their cars.

Tacoma Public Schools closed all classes in March as the coronavirus pandemic spread around the globe and Washington state. For seniors that meant losing out on the annual ceremony as they collect their diplomas.

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On Wednesday, Mt. Tahoma and Wilson high school students picked up the trappings of graduation, caps and gowns, a diploma cover, honor chords and a sign to place on the front yard of their home. Then heard their name called over a loudspeaker.

That was followed by a drive through a gauntlet of cheering teachers and classmates lined up to say goodbye.

“Strange but exciting,” said Mt. Tahoma art teacher Molly Seyler. “I’m glad that we’re still trying to somewhat connect to the students and give them some sort of a sense of celebration,” said Seyler, who was wearing a protective facemask. “I’m super happy to physically see people,” she added.

For some this was an exciting day even without the usual pomp and circumstance.

“I feel this is kind of more fun and different,” said senior Maryann Hanes. “It’s kind of unique. Nobody ever had this before.”

For other students losing out a graduation ceremony was a big disappointment.

“I don’t like it,” said senior Sean Carter. “I didn’t do 13 years of school to graduate like this.”

After each student receives their cap and gown, the district is asking families to take photos and send to their school for their virtual graduation ceremony.

Scheduled graduations in Tacoma are unlikely to happen but the district is planning to do virtual ceremonies.

“With the current information we have from Gov. Inslee, it does not appear he will allow mass gatherings by the time our graduations are scheduled to occur,” the district said. “If the governor lifts the restrictions on mass gatherings, it's possible in-person graduations could still happen.”

Below is the district’s schedule:

  • Wednesday, May 6, 11 a.m.: Mount Tahoma High School, 4634 S. 74th St.
  • Wednesday, May 6, 11 a.m.: Wilson High School, 1202 N. Orchard St.
  • Friday, May 8, 11 a.m.: Stadium High School, 111 N. E St.
  • Friday, May 8, 11 a.m.: Lincoln High School, 701 S. 37th St.
  • Monday, May 11, 11 a.m., Foss High School, 2112 S. Tyler St.
  • Tuesday, May 12, 10 a.m., iDEA (Industrial Design, Engineering and Art), 2112 S. Tyler St. (Foss High School)
  • Tuesday, May 12, 11 a.m.: SAMi (Science and Math Institute), 2112 S. Tyler St. (Foss High School)
  • Tuesday, May 12, 12 p.m.: SOTA (School of the Arts), 2112 S. Tyler St. (Foss High School)