By Erica Wright
The Birmingham Times
The high school graduation may have had a different look, but the excitement was the same.
Welcome to commencement in the era of COVID-19.
Even though graduates of Huffman High School’s Class of 2020 had socially distanced during their ceremony earlier this month, that didn’t stop them from still celebrating a milestone.
“We are extremely proud of these young ladies and young men who are being honored today, they have worked extremely hard over the past 12 years to reach this milestone in their lives,” said John Lyons Jr., principal.
The graduation ceremony was held in the school’s auditorium where graduates sat in the center, on every other row and with five to six seats of space between each student. Families sat on the left or right sides of the auditorium with the same amount of space between each. Student were allowed to have two guests. Everyone in the building — graduates, guests, school and board administrators — all wore masks.
The graduating class of 250 began ceremonies at 9 with groups of 25-30; then another group of 25-30 at 10 and so on until the entire class graduated. Each graduation lasted about 20-30 minutes.
Salutatorian Sa’Kera Rogers acknowledged the year didn’t end like she expected.
“It caught me off guard but we worked so hard to get to this point to be able to say we are graduates of Huffman High School. We did it, no matter the circumstances, we are here. Huffman’s senior class is full of ambition and I know without a doubt, we will be successful in everything that the future has in store for us…. What other class can say they graduated through a worldwide pandemic?”
Qiana Williams, Huffman’s valedictorian said the road to success “is always under construction . . . [this] is a special year for all of us,” she said. “It is special because we are overcoming the greatest pandemic of mankind that has blanketed the world and consumed the lives of many.
“My challenge to you is how can we elevate or rise above this situation to achieve not only scholastic goals but life itself. We are tried and tested and we have persevered through this life changing event.”
Nyla Lucky said she missed some of the traditional senior activities.
“We couldn’t have a prom and go on trips and different things like that and when we heard we weren’t going to have a graduation at first, I was a little mad because I waited so long for this . . . but I’m glad they came up with something for us to do and that I was still able to walk and graduate with my classmates.”
Lucky, will attend Alabama State University in Montgomery in the fall where she will study biology and has hopes to become a CRNA [Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists].
Her dad, Tavares, was among parents happy to see his daughter walk.
“. . . when we got the word there would be some type of ceremony, I felt better and that students would at least get the opportunity to have a graduation.”
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