Student petitions for in-person graduation, garners support

PHOTO: The petition for an in-person graduation was widely distributed through Instagram and Snapchat stories.

By Lyah Fitzpatrick, Editor-in-chief–

Over 600 people have signed a petition supporting an in-person graduation for the Davis High class of 2021. Created by senior Emme Dunning, the petition is directed towards the Davis Joint Unified School District, Superintendent John Bowes, Principal Tom McHale and the Davis High Support our Seniors (SOS) group.

In her petition, Dunning makes the statement, “With masks and the space available to us on the football field, it is completely plausible to maintain distancing between students, and considering the entire ceremony would be outside, the risk would be fairly low.”

Dunning created the petition two weeks ago using with a purpose in mind. “The seniors have had obviously such a rough year, year and a half,” Dunning said. “We’ve missed almost all of our senior events and we feel there is a really safe and easy way to make an in-person graduation possible.”

After receiving the petition, McHale called Dunning. “I talked to [him] basically a little more about the petition and told him I’d be happy to be in contact with him,” Dunning said. 

McHale encourages seniors to contact him with ideas. “We’re going to be following the information that we receive as closely as possible,” he said.

According to McHale, administration has already begun discussing the possibilities of an in-person graduation. “We’re working with parents and I’ve spoken with Student Government,” he said.

During a traditional graduation, approximately 4,500 people fill the stadium. While the event may have to be altered in accordance with Yolo County Health Department regulations, McHale hopes to maintain some tradition. “It’s a way that we can celebrate the achievement of our students and bring our school community together,” he said.

Both Dunning and McHale have discussed graduation with the SOS group, a group of Davis High parents working to support the class of 2021 by distributing gifts and planning socially distant events. Stacy Looney, mom of senior Megan Looney, is a part of the SOS in-person graduation subgroup.

According to Looney, the subgroup is “looking into alternative venues” in the event DJUSD administration cannot hold an in-person graduation. “This includes safe alternatives, smaller cohort groups and multiple ceremonies,” Looney said. 

She, along with other parents, strongly believe a physical graduation is important to seniors. “They have worked hard to get here and deserve to have their efforts be recognized in a manner that is more meaningful than a video virtual ceremony,” she said.

“I look forward to celebrating with our students, to really celebrate their great accomplishments,” McHale said.

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