High schools prepare for large in-person graduation ceremonies | KSTP.com

High schools prepare for large in-person graduation ceremonies

Jessica Miles
Updated: May 19, 2021 06:56 PM
Created: May 19, 2021 05:19 PM

3M Arena at Mariucci will be a very busy spot over the next few weeks, hosting what will be some of the largest public gatherings in Minnesota in the past year.

McKenna Haas is capturing her graduation achievement from the University of Minnesota.

"We are dressed up in our clothing that we would be wearing for a graduation ceremony," she said.

Her College of Liberal Arts commencement was a virtual ceremony with a prerecorded speech and a slideshow of names.

"I would love to walk across the stage. I feel like it’s a rite of passage to grab your degree, walk across the stage in front of your friends and family, so that’s something I would really like to do," Haas said.

It's what thousands will be doing at 3M Arena at Mariucci.

All of these chairs set up inside are set up socially distanced, for now.

But on May 28, state COVID-19 guidelines change, allowing for large in-person high school graduation ceremonies again.

Over the course of 10 days, there will be 17 high schools in Mariucci celebrating commencement.

"The graduating classes range anywhere from 300 to 800, and with no restriction on occupancy we could have four to five thousand people in the building to enjoy that commencement ceremony," said Craig Flor, director of arenas at the University of Minnesota.

Flor says sanitizing will still happen between ceremonies, and while not energy efficient, outside airflow into the building will be at 100%.

Handshakes and hugs won't be shared when walking the stage, and school bands are asked to stay away.

"As this is an airborne virus, and bands and wind instruments is all about airborne, so we’re trying to discourage that, and most schools leading up to the latest announcement were leaning towards stuff that was virtually piped in or prerecorded prior somewhere else," Flor explains.

It's a quick pivot, adjusting to changing rules, and certainly a big change from last year when there were no ceremonies, but one Flor is ready to take on.

"It’s exciting because it’s finally doing what we do," he said.

Haas is hopeful she can wrap up her education in a more traditional way later on.

"Hopefully they (U of M) will invite us back to do some sort of celebration in the future," she said. 

While not mandated, masks will be recommended for those graduating and attending the ceremonies inside.

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