HomeCommunity NewsSMHS Class of 2020 Wants a July 31 Graduation

SMHS Class of 2020 Wants a July 31 Graduation

Despite recent rule changes permitting drive-through processions and car parade celebrations in Los Angeles County, San Marino High School’s class of 2020 remains committed to a July 31 graduation date.
Amid pandemic-related restrictions on public gatherings and uncertainty as to an exact date when regulations might ease, SMHS quickly began its journey to reimagine important end-of-year activities and made seniors’ voice and choice the compass.
“I believe one of the greatest factors in sticking with July 31 for graduation is the hope that it brings,” said Grace Davis, a senior at SMHS, Associated Student Body vice president and student representative to the school board.
Postponing graduation to the summer would offer the hope that public health and safety restrictions may be additionally eased by then, raising the possibility of a more traditional graduation ceremony, including some iteration of Grad Night and other events.
Davis has taken part in nearly weekly meetings since the San Marino Unified School District’s April 1 announcement of school site closures for the remainder of the academic year prompted student leaders, teachers, staff and administrators to discuss alternate plans for traditional senior activities and find inventive ways to honor the Titan class of 2020.
“From the time we knew we had to rethink our traditional senior celebrations, our top priority has been to let student input pave the way,” said SMHS Principal Issaic Gates. “We remain committed to honoring our students in the ways and on the dates they have identified as being most meaningful to them.”
And though the voice might not be unanimous, it’s clearly overwhelming. When asked last Friday if they would be available to participate in a graduation ceremony on Friday, July 31, 87% of the 182 students replied “yes.” Only 63% were available for a Sunday, May 31 “drive-by” ceremony.
“The Grad Night committee and all those that are supporting the effort are planning daily for a special night for the seniors, whether it’s July 31st or a later date,” said Beth Davis, Grace’s mother and a Grad Night co-chair. “We are committed to ensuring this class gets their special celebration, just like the 65 classes before them.”
Beth Davis has consistently championed an in-person graduation and Grad Night, and has said she needs two weeks to have the set ready for the affair.
When news broke last Friday morning that car parades and drive-through processions would be allowed in Los Angeles County, this same planning team immediately met for a discussion on how the change might affect their established plans. An “emergency survey” was sent to Titan seniors and families to determine whether a drive-through graduation procession this Friday, May 29 (the high school’s pre-pandemic graduation date), or a date soon thereafter. Survey results maintained July 31 as the optimal date.
“At the end of the day, I think our seniors are simply grateful that we are continuing to work and try to create the most memorable experiences possible if we are unable to hold these events in a more traditional manner,” Grace Davis said.
“As with everything during the COVID-19 crisis, guidelines and processes continue to rapidly evolve,” said SMUSD Superintendent Jeff Wilson. “We are grateful for our partnership with the San Marino Police Department and Chief John Incontro, who have kept us daily informed on these breaking developments, and we are grateful for our city’s efforts to support timely graduation options for seniors.”
San Marino High held a virtual “Coffee With the Principal” event on Tuesday to answer questions and allow for an opportunity to discuss the decision on a July 31 graduation date.


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