Parker High School’s Class of 2020 will not be having a traditional graduation ceremony because of the restrictions put in place due to the coronavirus pandemic. However, the graduation will be memorable. In place of the ceremony, there will be a parade May 21 throughout the town and some areas on the Colorado River Indian Reservation.
Thursday, May 21 is the day that the graduation ceremony would’ve been held at Joe Bush Stadium.
The Parker Town Council approved the parade at their May 5 meeting. The parade is scheduled to start at 6 p.m. and should run about two hours.
In a memo to the Council, Town Manager Lori Wedemeyer said the schools have been closed for the remainder of the school year, and that Parker High cannot hold a traditional graduation ceremony due to Executive Orders regarding social distancing.
“This gives the seniors an opportunity to be recognized by their family and friends, yet following the Executive Order on Social Distancing,” Wedemeyer said.
The CRIT Tribal Council has a “stay-at-home” order in effect until May 31 that bans all gatherings of more than six people unless they are part of the same household. Joe Bush Stadium and other Parker High athletic facilities are on land leased from the Tribes.
At the May 5 Council meeting, Council Member Karen Bonds said the council needed a presence at the parade and asked about a banner congratulating the class of 2020. Town Clerk Amy Putnam said she and Library Director Tracy McConnell had already discussed making a banner to be placed near Pop Harvey Park. Bonds said that would be a great idea.
Parker High Principal David Daly said he and the school staff brainstormed for ideas when it became clear they could not hold a traditional graduation ceremony.
“We felt our seniors needed something,” he said.
Daly and the staff came up with the idea for a parade, and they presented it to the senior class officers. Daly said the class officers liked the idea, and so did many of the seniors they spoke with.
Daly said there could be only one graduate per vehicle, and that student could not be the driver of the vehicle due to concerns over distracted driving. He said cars could be decorated, as long as the decorations were “appropriate.”
Staging would begin at 5 p.m. at the Parker High athletic complex on 18th Street. The parade itself will begin at 6 p.m. After their tour around the route, the vehicles would return to Joe Bush Stadium. Students’ names would be announced, and they would receive their diplomas in their vehicles.
At no point during the parade would students leave their vehicles.
Daly said the Parker Police Department would coordinate traffic control along the parade route.
Parker Unified School District Superintendent Brad Sale this was the next best thing to having a traditional graduation ceremony.
“It’s the best thing we can do regarding the whole situation,” he said. “I feel for these kids. They’re a good bunch of kids. They worked hard for this.”
As the parade route is finalized, more details on the route will be published.