Auburn Hosts Cap and Gown Parade

June 30, 2020 | Education | Gina Hubin

The world experienced a special empathy with high school and college seniors when the coronavirus denied the class of 2020 one of their biggest milestones of their youth — their commencement.

Auburn Adventist Academy staff in Washington were no different from thousands of other educators who were brainstorming unique ways to make their seniors feel special and perhaps ease the sorrow of disappointment.

Auburn seniors typically receive their packaged caps and graduation gowns the first week of May. “Instead of seniors picking up their caps and gowns in the usual cellophane packaging, maybe this was an opportunity to make this a special event,” thought Demetrio Villar, senior sponsor.  

While being mindful of safe distancing guidelines, the original thought morphed into an idea for a parade. The night of the cap-and-gown parade, seniors and their families drove around the perimeter of the campus while faculty and staff scattered along the "parade route" with signs, noise makers and cow bells to hoot and holler for each senior.

Families continued to the center of campus at the gazebo where the cars circled up like wagon trains of old. Special attention was given to proper physical distancing so everyone would remain healthy as each senior, one by one, got out of their vehicles and walked the circle with their cap and gown to wave at their classmates. Every vehicle could honk and cheer for each other. Joy once again was alive on the campus after two months of somber silence. 

Stella Ga, Associated Student Body spiritual vice president and graduating senior, summed up some thoughts from her classmates: “The cap and gown ceremony was a special and meaningful memory that added to our senior year. The thought and creativity that went into each station and aspect of the event honored us, the senior class of 2020.”

Ga continues, “Some may have felt that seeing everyone made our current situation that much harder to endure. However, it had the complete opposite effect for me. I was beyond grateful to see all my friends and see them in their hard-earned cap and gown. I had been feeling discouraged lately, but seeing my classmates lifted my spirits and gave me the energy to keep going. For this reason, I am beyond grateful for the event and for the staff who went out of their way to do something special for us. It’s one for the books for sure!”

The evening ended with each senior receiving an individual package of fresh cinnamon rolls lovingly baked by Zuzana Rachal, food service director.

Auburn Adventist Academy desired to continue celebrating, supporting and encouraging those who were experiencing disappointment but were trying to be brave and courageous. Each day leading to the end of the school year, Auburn featured senior student profiles on its Facebook and alumni Facebook pages, where friends and family of the academy shared congratulatory messages. Additionally, a belated graduation ceremony is planned for August 15.