The Eastern Mennonite School Auditorium parking lot saw unprecedented action this afternoon when the class of 2020 held its graduation rehearsal and a senior parade.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, all the usual EMHS traditions are either cancelled or changed this spring. Traditions such as Senior Day Out — also known in the past as “senior sneak day” — and senior pranks and Junior-Senior Banquet in its usual form, could not happen this year.
But new and fun events have taken place already.
Graduation rehearsal — usually held in Lehman Auditorium at Eastern Mennonite University — is generally a somewhat serious and lengthy affair with people practicing their step-to-step “Pomp and Circumstance” routine. This year, the 39 members of the senior class pulled into preassigned spots in the parking lot and learned about their cue for getting out of their car at the 102nd commencement exercises, scheduled for June 14 at 2:30 p.m.
The mood was upbeat as students pulled into the lot, many seeing each other for the first time since mid March. Horn honking was frequent. Shannon Roth, senior class adviser, and Justin King, high school principal, used bullhorns. Seniors practiced walking across the gravel (careful with those heels, ladies!) to the temporary stage, picking up a “diploma'” and crossing the stage to pose for a picture — all at appropriate distances.
At the other side of the stage, they picked up a treat from Tropical Smoothie Cafe and a metal reusable straw provided by Everence as a celebratory gift from the EMS Advancement team, part one of their gifts as the students became official members of the Alumni Association.
The Senior Parade
After rehearsal, seniors drove to Eastern Mennonite University Commons parking lot to prepare for the parade. Led by Shannon Roth and junior marshals Maggie Fairfield and Emma Meyers (top scholars for their class) in the athletic department Kawasaki Mule, the parade began.
Seniors drove down the hill past cheering friends and families, through the auditorium lot again to be greeted by socially distanced teachers and administrators cheering them on. The Alumni Association shared additional gifts of a logo fleece blanket and handmade ceramic mug by Herb Weaver ’75. Special this year, was a COVID-19 t-shirt featuring a mask and the words “Ready for the world… When it is ready for us.” A few items left in lockers and classrooms, and their portfolio from their EMS years, were also distributed.
The events provided an opportunity for family, friends, students, teachers and administrators to celebrate the class, see each other in a safe setting, and put a bit of the disappointment of the spring semester behind them.
Photos by Andrew Gascho and Andrea Wenger