After a year turned upside down by the COVID-19 pandemic, Richmond High School’s 30 seniors recieved their diplomas in the school gymnasium, the school’s traditional graduation venue, on Saturday, June 5.

Richmond Valedictorian Andrew Vachon said he’s glad to see his graduation ceremony in its traditional location, but suspects some classmates would have preferred to be held outside like last year. Photo courtesy of Andrew Vachon

There was limited seating, and both graduates and audience members were required to follow safety requirements to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19.

Last year, Richmond held its graduation ceremony outside and guests were required to remain in their cars to mitigate the risk of spreading COVID-19. After the ceremony, the new graduates stood along Main Street and accept congratulations from those in passing vehicles, a plan designed to reduce the risk of crowds.

Principal Karl Matulis said though holding the event outside without the benefit of a stadium presented some challenges, “we were thrilled to hold graduation at all last year.”

Valedictorian Andrew Vachon said he’s glad to see graduation return to its traditional location, but said “many of my classmates also enjoyed going to the Class of 2020’s graduation that was hosted outside and would have liked to see ours the same way.”

Senior Breanna Vintinner said while she’s glad this year’s graduation ceremony will take place in the school gymnasium, she’s disappointed seating will be limited. Photo courtesy of of Breanna VinTinner

Senior Breanna Vintinner agreed with Vachon, adding while she’s happy to turn her tassel in the gymnasium, “I also feel that, with this pandemic, many people are sad to have only a certain amount of people (attend the ceremony).”

Seating in the gymnasium was limited to 50% capacity, but the celebration was livestreamed for those unable to attend in person.

“Even though it was very difficult working from home most days and keeping up with my school work I found the motivation to make it to the end,” said Vachon. “This past year has been a learning experience more than anything. It really makes me think about what everything would have looked like if we were not in a pandemic and how I took a lot of things for granted.”

Likewise, Vintinner said graduating was “surreal,” after a senior year stripped of so many traditions from prom to packed stands at sporting events.

“For us seniors, we are all sad that our senior year was not like the others we have watched,” said Vintinner. “We missed out on so many awesome things but we are trying to make the best out of it.”

“They are a great group of students, and have persevered through so much during the last year plus,” said Matulis. “We all look forward to seeing what they can do.”

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