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A Drive-thru Graduation To Remember

Cierra Lemott is all smiles after receiving her high school diploma in a drive-by graduation.

So it’s safe to say that this school year has been nothing that I would’ve expected or could’ve prepared for. One minute we were in school and everything was normal. The next minute, we were at home quarantining and practicing social distancing. Definitely a harsh transition that none of us were ready for.

Overall, I’m the most disappointed because I didn’t get the opportunity to spend my last few months of high school having fun with my friends. All of our senior activities got snatched away and all that we graduates were left with was the hope of having a drive-thru graduation.

Despite all the bad that came with being a graduate during quarantine, there have been some advantages. I’m grateful that I got to have my own drive-thru graduation where all of my family came out to celebrate me. Had we had a traditional graduation, this most likely wouldn’t have happened. A party afterwards, maybe, so the people that didn’t get a graduation ticket could help me celebrate, but never that many of my people at the ceremony at once. If we’re being honest, I’ve never even heard of a drive-thru graduation until this year (for obvious reasons). But with a pandemic you learn to adapt.

My drive-thru graduation at my house was a success. My mom, grandma, and church family put it all together. It consisted mostly of all my church family and some family friends driving down the block and honking their horns, playing music, and yelling a variation of “congratulations” and “We’re so proud of you.” It made me feel really good, appreciated, and loved. It was also the first time that I had seen a lot of them since quarantine started in March. Of course, it wasn’t the same as having a traditional graduation, but I loved every second of it. In a way, it was actually better. All the attention was on me and most of my family was there to celebrate this milestone with me.

My school did actually put something together for all the graduates. Even though we couldn’t all be together in the same space (because, you know, social distancing), we did get to have a school drive-thru graduation. Of course, we had to wear masks. The principal handed us our diplomas, took a picture with us, and we took pictures on our own. After that, I got back in the car and left out of the parking lot to take pictures with some of my friends that also stayed after. That was it. It was very anticlimactic. A day I’d been looking forward to for years was only about two minutes long. The fun part of the day came when I went to a friend’s party after the fact. I was almost in tears because I hadn’t seen anybody at the party since March. That was definitely the highlight of my day.

It was very anticlimactic. A day I’d been looking forward to for years was only about two minutes long.

If we would’ve had an actual graduation, the entire feeling would’ve been different. It’s almost a week later and I still don’t believe I graduated, mostly because of the way that it happened. It’s going to be hard to move forward knowing that I didn’t get to participate in all of the senior activities, especially graduation, that literally every other class did. Despite this, I’m just happy that I got to graduate and see all of my friends do the same.

Everything about my senior year was completely unexpected and different than what I had been picturing since I first stepped into high school, but sometimes different isn’t always a terrible thing. This pandemic is something I’ll never be able to forget and I’ll always have this story to tell. There aren’t very many people that can say their final year of high school turned out the way that anyone from the class of 2020 did. I’m just hoping that college is great to make up for the losses that I sustained due to the pandemic. Honestly, college has no choice but to be better. I don’t really think things can get much worse than the end of this school year.

Although I wish things could have turned out better closing out this chapter of life, I’ve tried to be as optimistic as possible. The bigger picture here is the fact that I, along with all of my friends, graduated. High school and all the stress that it came with is behind me. Now, it’s time to focus on the future and moving forward as a new chapter in my life is beginning.

 

By Cierra Lemott, Freshman, Columbia College Chicago

Instagram & Snapchat: @cece.kodak

Cierra Lemott

Written by Cierra Lemott

I'm a professional procrastinator and my hobbies include sleeping, eating, and Netflix binging.

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