A gym packed full of friends, family, supporters, speeches, tears, and joy: these are key elements of a normal Seward High School Graduation. This year, however, the class of 2020 will make history as they break the long-standing tradition.

Because of restrictions surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s graduating class will miss out on a moment they have been imagining their entire lives. Despite this, students embrace the alteration with a positive mindset, looking to each other for support.

“We all have grown to appreciate the time we had together,” says Senior Madison Athey.

Athey’s classmate, Madilyn Moore adds, “I definitely think it brings us closer…. this is a big deal, and for the rest of our lives we all can connect about the extreme uniqueness of our graduation. I’ve turned to my classmates for comfort and have tried to comfort them as well.”

Naomi Ifflander, another Seward High senior, says, “I was really looking forward to seeing my friends graduate. Most of us have grown up together and have even gone to the same preschool. These global events definitely bring us together. It’s certainly a memorable year for everyone!”

Seward High School staff is working closely with the graduating class and their families to give the kids a proper send-off.

“The overwhelming message I’m getting from students is that they’re just done,” says Principal Trevan Walker. “Take normal senioritis and add the tragedy that has been their senior year — smoke, possible strike, Linnea’s death, and pandemic. It’s not hard to recognize their anger, frustration, heartbreak, and pain.”

Arrangements have been made for a senior parade on Tuesday, May 19 at 7 p.m. to celebrate the graduating class. The parade will start at Seward High School and drive south on Resurrection Blvd. to the Seward Highway. It will then proceed south on the Seward Highway to Railway Avenue where the parade will turn left. It will then proceed North on Fourth Avenue all the way to Port Ave. to the Seward Highway and all the way to Sea Lion Drive. The parade will turn west on Sea Lion Drive and end at the top of the hill at Seward High.

Each senior will have the option to receive his or her diploma surrounded by immediate family and a small number of close friends and supporters in the Seward High School Theater today and tomorrow. Unfortunately, it is a closed event and is only open to people with invitations from the graduates. Please do not come to the school during these times if you have not been invited.

Senior Bjorn Nilsson sheds new light on the unusual situation, saying, “Although it would be nice to participate in a traditional graduation, I think this version is getting as much or even more attention than a normal one.” 

Seward High School laments the loss of this milestone in the lives of the students, but is doing its best to provide a safe and satisfactory alternative, said Walker.

“Through all of this, I’m hopeful that (the graduating class) and all students at Seward High recognize that these limitations all come from a place of genuine love and concern for their health, safety, and growth,” finishes Walker. “If I had a magic wand, then I’d wave it and give all students the end-of-year that they deserve, and it breaks my heart that I can’t.”

Seward High School Class of 2020

Madison Athey, Tayten Barhaug, Reanna Brewi, Olivia Carney, Rebekah Christenson, Blake Cooke, Sophia Dow, Dylan Roy, Lincoln Farris, Lindy Guernsey, Jack Gunter, Derek Harshman, Hunter Hollingsworth, Naomi Ifflander, Kyrsten Johnson-Gray, Jonah Lindquist, Clarence Longan, Justin McMurray, Faith Mitchell, Madilyn Moore, Michael Moriarty, Bjorn Nilsson, Joshua Park, Kalista Rodriguez, Allison Rogers, Angel Schwertfeger, Shelly Sewell, Connor Spanos, Priscilla Stoltz, Shayne Sullivan, Daisy Terry, David Thomas, Angela Tinker, Jaden Van Dyke, Akilena Veach, Gabriel Wood, Seth Zimmerman.

Lydia Jacoby is a rising junior at Seward High School, She is working as an intern for the Seward Journal this summer. In addition to being a full time student, she writes for the Seward High School online paper and is a competitive swimmer. She can be reached at news@sewardjournal.com.