District 91 holding graduation ceremonies at Motor Vu Drive-In and students have mixed feelings
IDAHO FALLS — Graduation ceremonies for Idaho Falls School District 91’s Class of 2020 are a bit unusual this year.
Due to the global pandemic, the district announced all graduation ceremonies will be held at the Motor Vu Drive-In Theatre on Yellowstone Highway.
The district’s board of trustees approved the proposal during a conference call Wednesday evening, but a decision this big comes with mixed feedback from the seniors.
“There has definitely been a range of feelings,” Skyline Student Body President Whitney Price says. “Some kids don’t want to do anything, some kids are like this isn’t what I worked for the past 12 years and they’re really upset about it. There are some kids that are like, this is awesome that we even get to do anything right now.”
Graduating from high school is what Idaho Falls senior Hailey Taylor has been looking forward to for years. She says she feels like she’s been robbed of the “best three months of my 12 years of school.”
“Being part of the class of 2020 was a blessing and a curse. … I grew up watching high school graduations in movies and tv shows and dreaming of the day and what it would be like. To me, graduation signifies the next big chapter of your life,” she says. “When I heard that IFHS was doing a drive-in graduation I was really disappointed. … I never knew when my “lasts” would be, and that might be the worst part of all of this.”
Idaho Falls senior student-athlete Oaklee Woolstenhulme says, “Truthfully, I am heartbroken my peers and I won’t be walking across the stage or walking in any traditional form, period. None of the D91 seniors will have their scholastic or athletic achievements recognized. Yes, they are showing our cap and gown photos at the drive-in, but it’s not the same recognition as walking with our honor cords, medallions and being handed our diploma.”
Bianca Fairchild is a senior at Skyline High School. She says she emailed the school weeks ago recommending they postpone the senior celebrations until summer, hoping they could celebrate like normal, later. The principal responded that her email had been received, but nothing else, she says.
“I’m mostly frustrated that I had to deal with a couple weeks where I didn’t even know if I was going to get a graduation and the school had nothing to say to us,” she says. “I feel like the drive-in graduation is putting a band-aid on a bullet hole for a quick solution, rather than actually taking the time to plan a proper graduation later on.”
The drive-in idea was an effort led by Idaho Falls High School Principal Robert Devine, according to District 91 Spokeswoman Margaret Wimborne.
Wimborne says the drive-in parking lot holds over 400 cars. Students can still wear caps and gowns, but the graduation ceremony will essentially take place on the big screen. There will be a slideshow celebrating the class of 2020, speeches and each student will appear on the screen as their names are called and they’re recognized.
There will also be a firework show at the end tailored to each school’s colors.
“We know that this is difficult for all of our families, but especially our seniors, so we really wanted to do something that was going to celebrate them in a unique way that still respected all of the social distancing and other pieces that are in place right now,” Wimborne says.
Idaho Falls Senior Class President Evelyn Shull believes the plan that’s in place now for graduation is as good as it can be, given the circumstances.
“Honestly, it will be more memorable than if I had a normal ceremony,” she tells EastIdahoNews.com.
Price says the last few months have been unique and that sending the seniors off by holding graduation at a drive-in, tops it off.
“I think it’s awesome that we even get to have the opportunity to participate in something that is basically history,” says Price. “Thirty years down the road when we have our own kids, we’ll be able to say, ‘Our graduation was in a drive-in during this crazy time.'”
There are four graduations planned for each of the district’s high schools. Those dates and times can be found here. They are also making plans to stream the ceremonies on various platforms.
Wimborne says families will be getting more details about graduation from their student’s high school.