KCPS seniors grateful to finally turn their tassels at in-person graduations

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The class of 2020 has waited 13 years to walk across the stage at high school graduation.

But because of the coronarvirus crisis, it’s something many didn’t think would happen this year. 

“I thought that it would be canceled. To be honest, I was kind of sad about it because who wouldn’t want to walk across the stage after 13 years of hard work,” East High School graduate Jacob Moreno said. 

But the Kansas City Public School District arranged for its seven high schools to have in-person graduation ceremonies. On Wednesday, East High seniors got to turn their tassels. 

“I don’t think it was a hard decision at all because we know what our parents want. We surveyed. We had a group of seniors that we spoke with. They made it very clear that they did not want a virtual commencement,” KCPS Superintendent Dr. Mark Bedell said. 

The district has held about 14 mini graduations each day for the past three weeks. The graduates are put into small groups, and then they were able to walk across the stage.

Each student was allowed to invite four guests. Seats were taped off to ensure social distancing measures were followed. Students also stood 6 feet apart, as they waited for their names to be called. 

“This is a huge blessing, and I know a lot of seniors in today’s society haven’t been given that chance to walk across the stage. But we’ve been given that chance, and it’s just amazing,” Moreno said. 

While many other metro districts opt for virtual ceremonies, KCPS leaders are happy with their district’s decision.

“The texts and the emails from the students’ responses that they get to have that moment for themselves has been awesome,” East High School Principal Luis Hinojosa said. 

District officials said East High School had 330 graduates this year. That’s its highest graduation rate in school history. 

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