Senior Drive-Thru Graduation was a success


The famous rock in front of the school was painted for the graduation

On June 4, 2020, the original date of their graduation ceremony, the senior class convened in the bus loop of West Po for a drive through graduation. The celebration went on from 9 am to 5 pm, and students came at specific times according to last names. This thoughtful planning allowed kids to drive right through with almost no traffic, the whole ceremony taking less than 20 minutes. “My only expectation was to be stuck in a lot of traffic but traffic wasn’t an issue at all, which was a great surprise,” reported Katherine Niles, West Po senior.


As students arrived at the parade loop in their cars decorated with streamers, balloons, and words of congratulations scrawled in window markers, they were greeted by 2020 balloons, and the school sign wishing them well. Continuing on down the loop, JROTC was collecting uniforms, and there was a laptop collection station where 5 masked ladies were graciously collecting seniors laptops and chargers. 


Next, another administrator stood, collecting textbooks and additional materials from the car windows. With a quick check to make sure you are on the list and have paid the senior dues, the next station is also left in the dust. 


Passing by the several photo ops made up of yard letters spelling out “congrats” and “2020” that were set up around the front doors and library windows, cars were now at the doors of the cafeteria. Several teachers, also in masks, stood around waving and yelling words of encouragement, as others took names and rushed inside the cafeteria to grab their “graduation tote bag” full of celebratory goodies. The bag had the West Potomac High School emblem and was the signature royal blue color. Inside it contained a cap and gown sporting the same regal blue hues, graduation programs, any service cords or honor stoles and medals the student had earned, a new senior t-shirt, diploma cover, diploma as well as their final transcript. “I didn’t get all of my cords and got the wrong senior shirt size, same with a lot of my friends,” mentioned Ruhama Baruda, senior at West Po. With the fast-paced structure of this graduation, the teachers in a rush to get everyone their bags, it’s no surprise that mistakes were made.


Balloons and yard signs were set up all around the courtyard in the middle of the loop, as well as the huge rock being newly painted, sporting the words, “Class of 2020” in royal blue and silver. Kids were getting out of cars to take the infamous cap and gown pictures with their friends, and while not exactly following the social distancing rules set in place by the Governor of Virginia, and re-enforced by the school officials, everyone was respectful of others’ space and comfort.


Students posed alone, with friends, and again with family in front of the balloons, freshly decorated rock, and in front of the banner containing a list of all the names of the 2020 graduating class. “Some of my friends had the chance to hop out and take pics by the rock, which was a cute idea,” recalled Ruhama Baruda. Further down the line, more masked teachers stood waving, hoping to catch a glimpse of their students in person one last time. 


More students posed in front of the various buildings, snapping shots with the many memories the brick walls contained. And while many chose to venture out of their cars to see friends, teachers, and pose in front of the several photo stations, the whole parade could be completed in the comfort of your own car. This provided a sense of safety for many families worried about spreading or contracting the current virus. According to Katherine Niles, “It did give me some sense of closure though, so, it served its purpose.” The drive-through graduation was a success and a great alternative to the usual lengthy ceremony, given the circumstances. 


There is an additional photo opportunity for seniors this week. Staff members have set up a stage platform in front of the school, surrounded by peace lilys and a podium to the right. Seniors will have the chance to sign up for a time slot to take a picture wearing their cap and gown, shaking an administrator or staff members’ hand while crossing the stage.