A safe way for seniors to say goodbye to Liberty

Amelia Nored, News Editor

We have been away from Liberty’s campus for over a year. We haven’t walked through the cafeteria to get a sandwich from L’Cafe, haven’t stood in the Liberty stadium bleachers to watch a football game, and haven’t sat in a classroom while watching our math teachers scribble illegible equations on the whiteboard. 

But there is one familiar experience that Liberty seniors will get to enjoy in person this year: senior graduation. 

Last school year, senior graduation took place online in a video format. Photos of students were displayed as their names were read through a voiceover to replace students walking across the stage to receive their diploma.

“Everybody had their moment in that video where they were celebrated. It was something, but it wasn’t the same, and I can’t pretend that it was. I know that it was hard on those seniors to miss out on that in-person component, but we tried to celebrate as best we could,” principal Sean Martin said. 

In contrast, Liberty High School decided—after a year-long discussion—that the 2021 senior graduation will occur in person at Liberty stadium instead of online. Loosened restrictions for social gatherings make this possible. 

“If graduation happened today, a maximum of 200 people would be allowed on a site at any given time,” Martin said. “This means that we would have to hold a number of different rounds of graduation, probably grouping students alphabetically, but it’s worth it for people to have that in-person celebration.”

Liberty recognizes that it is important for families and friends to be at graduation, but with this restriction, it is difficult to ensure that. 

“If the vaccine continues to be distributed and the numbers continue to drop, perhaps the cap will go up for the number of people we can have on one site at one time. If it goes up to 400, then we are able to have just two graduations; everyone brings their parents, and it’s okay,” Martin said. “But based on what we have right now, even if the numbers aren’t great and they look like they do currently, at least we can have something.”

There are certain elements of graduation that the school is still deciding on how to execute, such as musical performances. It is typical for the choir and orchestra or band to perform at the graduation ceremony, but the limitation of the number of people at school functions places these at a lower priority than getting students, staff, and families to the ceremony. Additionally, it is traditional for a senior breakfast, student recognition ceremony, and celebrations for student scholarships to occur before the graduation. PTSA and the Liberty graduation committee are still deciding if and how these events can be held safely and responsibly.

While this year’s graduation may look slightly different than those of years past, it is giving back seniors a bit of normalcy that they have not had for the past year. Although they will be six feet apart on June 11, Liberty students will be united, spending their last moments as Liberty students at school instead of through a screen.