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A different kind of graduation celebration

MATEC graduates are doing commencement with individual ceremonies to follow social distancing guidelines

Photo by Deb Gau Yasmin Galvan held up the Student of the Year award she was presented at a graduation recognition on Monday afternoon. Galvan, a fall graduate of MATEC, is one of 13 students who are getting their own personal commencement ceremonies this week, to allow for social distancing.

MARSHALL — A lot of the traditional parts of a graduation were there — the podium, the diploma, and the music playing “Pomp and Circumstance.” But as her name was announced, Yasmin Galvan wasn’t exactly walking across a stage. Instead, Galvan was recognized by MATEC Assistant Principal Amanda Pederson in front of an outdoor backdrop, as a gathering of about 10 family members and teachers cheered in the school parking lot.

“Thank you, MATEC,” Galvan said to the audience after accepting her diploma. “I love you all.”

Galvan, who graduated last fall, was one of several MATEC graduates who donned their caps and gowns for individual commencement ceremonies on Monday. With COVID-19 making it impossible to do their usual graduation program, MATEC’s graduating class of 13 are each being recognized in mini-programs over the course of the week.

“It’s been a unique opportunity,” said Chanda Bossuyt, of MATEC student services. “The kids enjoy getting a little bit of time,” to say a few words of their own, take pictures, and to see teachers in person after weeks of distance learning. At Monday’s ceremonies, school staff offered “air hugs” and took group photos with the new grads — with a little social distancing involved, of course.

Having a chance to celebrate in person was the good part of the recognition ceremony, Galvan said.

“It’s better than I thought it would be,” she said. At first, she said, “I thought it would be a video chat or something.”

Galvan was formally presented with her diploma, and was named the Student of the Year for the MATEC math department.

“She was committed to doing her work,” said teacher Brenda Elton.

MATEC and other area schools have been trying to find alternative ways to celebrate graduating seniors, while still following social distancing guidelines. This week, Marshall High School will be filming individual graduates for a virtual commencement ceremony that can be aired on Studio 1 TV, MHS Principal Brian Jones said. Tracy Area High School is planning a drive-through commencement ceremony and parade this weekend, Superintendent Chad Anderson said.

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