A Different Kind of Celebration; Graduation 2020
Friday, May 15, 2020
The fourteen graduates of Upton High School for 2020 are facing a situation no graduating class has ever experienced or probably ever will. Social distancing because of COVID-19 has caused an unprecedented change in the ritual of graduation. With only groups of ten allowed together, the district is allowing each student nine guests to come to the high school parking lot in two vehicles. They will have a table in front of the vehicles with seating for ten. They will be given the direction to stay at their table throughout the ceremony unless being called forward. Other family and friends are asked to view the graduation through a live stream and NOT TO COME TO THE SCHOOL. The event is at 1:00 p.m. on Sunday, May 17. The plan is to live stream the ceremony either through Facebook or YouTube starting with the senior slideshow, then having the actual ceremony. There will be the presentation in the high school parking lot with a stage area in front of the school along with a picture area. The ceremony will include the traditional recognitions including family babies, a guest speaker, and student speeches. After each speech is given by students. The welcome will be given by Jamison Nistler, valedictorian is Anna Schiller and, salutatorian, is Jasmine Toth, the introduction of speaker, Nick Johnson, will be by Eli Jones.
Nick Johnson’s family includes, he says, his beautiful wife Cammy, and my three sons, Sam 12, Will 10, and Jack 2.
Nick graduated from Newcastle in 1999 and then enlisted into the Navy for four and a half years. He was stationed in San Diego for two of the years and then transferred to Whidbey Island, Washington to complete the rest of his enlistment. Upon discharge, he moved back to California and attended Santa Monica Community College where he received an associate’s degree and then moved to Denver, Colorado, and completed his bachelor’s degree in History at Metropolitan State University of Denver.
When asked how he felt about being the guest speaker he said, “First off, I feel incredibly honored but somewhat surprised to be chosen to speak at this year’s graduation. Honestly, I was shocked when the Senior class asked me and then I immediately became nervous even though they asked back in December. I thought they were joking. Once I got over myself, I realized just how excited I was to speak on their behalf.
“Over the years I have watched this particular class evolve from middle school kids into the responsible adults that they are now and I am extremely proud of them. I also have enjoyed getting to know and work with those students that have moved into this class over the years as well. “This class has had to endure many changes since their Freshman year with the move from traditional education to a blended, personalized format. Each year they had to adjust like no other class that I have ever witnessed before and this year was no different. They had their prom canceled, spring sports canceled and obviously, graduation will look much different, but they still carried on. I do think that the shift to the blended, personal model did prepare them for the distance learning that all of America experienced these past few months. As a teacher, I did not have to implement anything drastic to what I was already doing, and these students had no issues in continuing on because they had already adjusted. That speaks to their willingness to adapt. They will be better off in the long run and I look forward to their future successes.”
The class will be given their diplomas, scholarships, awards, then go to the picture place, have pictures taken with parents and return to their family group. The remaining students will be called forward one-by-one to pick up their diplomas, awards, and scholarships. Cars will then drive through town in a convoy and people can come out and wave to them. Weather permitting, there will be a reverse parade lining up grads along the parking lot next to the practice field. Each graduate will have a box or basket and a table with their senior picture boards sitting in front of them in the parking lot in which people can drive by and drop presents/cards in the containers while wishing the graduates well from their cars.
Bad Weather Alternative – There will be no tables, and cars will be lined up along the cub outside the gym doors with the cars belonging to the families of speakers at the front of the line. Each speaker will come in and do their speech and then return to their cars with the convoy following the ceremony.
The graduates this year are Keyle Baker, Josiah Bishop, Isaiah Brooks, Joshua Brooks, Jayden Caylor, Luke Hillman, Eli Jones, Anathasia Schiller, Jamison Nistler, Jonathan Prichard, Robin Rhoden, Da- vid-James Till, Kendra Timberman, and Jasmine Toth. The Class Flower: Lily; Class Song: “Nobody Knows” by The Lumineers; Class Color: Purple; Class motto: “We came, we conquered, we survived!” Congratulations!!