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On Thursday, May 20th, graduating seniors from Dakota Ridge High School will receive their diplomas at Red Rocks Amphitheater. Seniors are now allowed to take eight guests to the ceremony, with the added safety measures of masks, temperature checks, and the requirements that groups must sit together.
“We have to follow the JeffCo COVID rules, which are basically guidelines from the Jefferson County Department of Health and Jefferson County Schools, and we are limited to the number of guests. It started out at four and, thankfully, those of us that are using Red Rocks — six high schools use Red Rocks, the rest will be using JeffCo stadiums — we get to have eight tickets per graduate now, so that was pretty exciting,” Brenda Lucas, assistant principal at Dakota Ridge, said.
Aside from COVID, in order to graduate there are some more requirements. Seniors must turn in their graduation agreement form and must have ordered their cap and gown. Students also must sign a graduation waiver, stating their agreements and understanding of the rules around the virus. This waiver is due May 19th.
At the ceremony, there are several people that will speak on behalf of the class of 2021. Mr. Casanova was selected by students to be the class speaker, and seniors Asia Landry and Chloe Meehan are the student speakers.
“The student speakers are actually selected by a committee, and they have to audition in front of us. We kind of have a rubric, and normally we only pick one, but this year was just really, really difficult because we had such amazing choices to select from. We said, ‘You know what, this has been a really rough year, and we’re gonna pick two,’ so we went with two because we wanted to make sure that we could hear both of their amazing speeches,” Lucas said.
Science teacher Mr. Gysin and counselor Mr. Smith will be the heralds at the ceremony and will call out the names as each person walks across the stage.
For the graduation rehearsal, which will occur on May 19th either in the gym or outside depending on the number of students attending, students will be taught exactly what to do and how they are going to walk across the stage. The heralds will also learn how to say each student’s name correctly.
Lily Olson, a senior, is excited to experience the freedom of summer. She says graduating high school is bittersweet, but again is excited to see what the future holds. Lily will miss the people at school the most because she has met a lot of new people and has made a lot of new friends.
“I am looking forward to getting my diploma because I’ve been working for it for 12 years. I am also excited to throw our caps because it feels very symbolic of an end of an era and the official mark that I have graduated,” Olson said.
Kelsey Tran, also a senior, is looking forward to college and to taking the classes that she “actually needs.” Kelsey will miss seeing her friends as often as she does in high school. For the graduation ceremony, she is most excited to hear her name called to receive her diploma.
“It feels so great to be done with high school, but I’m also sad because high school was such a fun experience,” Tran said.
Graduation day will bring a mix of emotions for everyone, but it also marks the beginning of something new, which is something we can all look forward to in times like this.