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Drive-in ceremonies considered as graduation day nears

Posted at 6:24 PM, Apr 25, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-25 20:24:43-04

SALT LAKE CITY – A Utahn who makes a living setting up live events has an idea that would give high school seniors the opportunity to experience a physical graduation during this time of social distancing.

“This is about the kids,” said Chris Martin, the president of Upstage Rentals. “We want to create a memorable alternative.”

Martin is pitching a plan for schools to hold drive-in ceremonies in large parking lots at the Utah State Fairpark and Maverik Center.

“Everybody would drive-in. They would tune into an FM station on the radio,” Martin said. “Four people per car, with the graduate and their immediate family members in the vehicle.”

Speeches from faculty and select students like the valedictorian would be given from a stage and broadcast to each car’s radio. Then, each graduate would have their special moment.

“When it came time to do the graduation or the walk, we would do a virtual walk. It would be a Power Point presentation on the screens.”

Martin believes this can all be done without anyone leaving their cars, thus following social distancing guidelines to avoid large gatherings.

One member of the class of 2020 is on board with the proposal.

“We would like to have the traditional ceremony we have always looked forward to, but an alternative like this is more preferred to a virtual situation,” said Amelia Rukavina, a senior at Waterford School. “This is definitely a good substitution.”

Health officials might be harder to persuade. The Salt Lake County Health Department sent an e-mail to school districts recommending ceremonies be held virtually or postponed until a later date.

The department warned that drive-in ceremonies could be risky because, “the temptation to not social distance will be too great.”

While drive-in ceremonies are not officially prohibited, it would be the responsibility of each district to ensure that social distancing was practiced to avoid an outbreak of COVID-19.