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Utah high schools plan more in-person graduation ceremonies for 2021

Many Utah high schools plan large outdoor events for graduation this year. Photo: Canva

SALT LAKE CITY — High school graduation season is approaching and Utah school districts are making more in-person graduation plans, unlike last year. But they won’t all be quite back to normal.

The global pandemic, still at its height at this time last year, meant that high school graduations entailed virtual ceremonies and drive-in graduations. This year, many school districts surveyed seniors and parents to see what they wanted for graduation in 2021.

“One of the biggest requests of our students has been that they get to have this celebration with their friends and fellow students, so they all get to be there together,” said Alpine School District administrator of public relations, David Stephenson.

“The vast majority said ‘we really want to be together,'” said Jordan School District spokeswoman Sandy Riesgraf. “That really was the bottom line.

These students want to be together. They spend all this time in high school making memories, and this is the culmination of a very important time in their life.”

Outside in-person graduation ceremonies

Some Utah school districts decided that, in order to more safely accommodate more people in-person, they will hold the ceremonies outside. Other high schools will hold graduation in the high school stadiums (some Canyons District schools.) Others will use Rio Tinto Stadium (Alpine District), USANA Amphitheater, or Zions Bank Real Academy, which are all outdoors.

The schools say have contingency plans in case it rains. But they are optimistic that the last week of May and first week of June will have dry weather.

Other schools will use a large indoor venue like the Huntsman Center (Canyons District) or Dee Events Center, and limit the number of guests per student so that people can spread out in the stadium seating. Some still plan to broadcast the event virtually for those at home.

Some pandemic rituals will stay

Riesgraf says they are going to keep the graduation parades in Jordan. The community feedback was overwhelmingly positive on that aspect of last year’s modified celebrations.

“Our schools are centers of the community, and people rally around them. Businesses rally around them and support the students throughout the year,” she said.

COVID-19 case counts have fallen and vaccinations have increased. Stephenson says they are looking forward to an almost-normal experience.

“It definitely is going to be a great opportunity for families to come together and celebrate these seniors who have experienced a very challenging school year,” said Stephenson.

We’ve linked to some of the district web pages below.

Alpine School District

Canyons School District

Jordan School District

Salt Lake City School District