High school seniors “devastated” over virtual graduation today

Today, June 8, Miami-Dade County high school seniors will have a remote virtual commencement.

The virtual ceremonies are being held in the place of physical ceremonies. Schools can find their graduation date and time online on the Miami-Dade County Public Schools website. The ceremonies will be aired on WLRN-TV. The county announced in March that schools were to participate in distance learning because of the increasing number of cases of the coronavirus found in South Florida. 

High school seniors had to adapt to their last few months of classes online when Superintendent Alberto M. Carvalho announced the start of remote learning. The notice of virtual graduation impacted seniors, who have spent many years working towards their diploma, and will not be able to walk across the stage or see their classmates.

“Having to accept the fact that the most-awaited event of our high school career was going to take place virtually was devastating,” said Michelle Abreu, a high school senior. “I wish I could have this experience, and in the future tell my kids about it. . . In the 12 years I have been in public schooling, I have been so excited for this.”

Abreu is a senior at TERRA Environmental Research Institute in Miami. She understands virtual graduation is the safest option, but still wishes they could have gone ahead with the ceremony.

“I feel like traditional graduation [would have been] possible, considering people are already gathering together and supermarkets are packed. Even Disney and Universal are reopening,” said Abreu. 

Abreu said she and her classmates are aware of the promise Superintendent Carvalho made in April that high school seniors will have a traditional ceremony when the circumstances are better. No additional information about the traditional ceremony has been released.

 “We’re all hoping he keeps his word, but nothing has been finalized,” Abreu said. 

High school faculty organized diplomas and distributed caps and gowns across the county. Jose Sirven, principal of TERRA Environmental Research Institute, has an idea of how he can commemorate the class of 2020 when the students come to pick up their diplomas.  

“I’m going to put props outside to take photos,” said Sirven. “I’m trying to make it the best possible scenario, of course, while maintaining social distancing.”

Martha Hernandez, Abreu’s mother, said she appreciates the efforts that are being made, but part of her is still sad the virtual graduation will replace a traditional one where her daughter would have walked across a stage.

“I really hope not only that she gets virtual graduation, but also that the county will deliver. In the summer, they can set a date to have actual graduation,” said Hernandez.

Gabriela Diaz, a senior at G. Holmes Braddock Senior High School in Miami, said virtual graduation will not be as personal of an experience as she would have wanted.

“It definitely got rid of what would have been the best part of high school,” she said. “It made me realize how much you have to enjoy the good things in life because you never know what is going to happen.”

Emma Delamo is a senior FIU student majoring in Broadcast Media. She is pursuing a minor in Social Media and E-Marketing Analytics and a second minor in Global Communication. She loves journalism and has a passion for reporting local and entertainment news.