EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - The Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation announced Thursday that all of its commencement ceremonies for the 2020 graduates have officially been canceled due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The commencement ceremonies were previously scheduled to take place later in July.
According to EVSC spokesperson Jason Woebkenberg, the following statement was sent to all of the seniors and their families on Thursday evening:
We sincerely regret to inform our 2020 graduates and their families that we must cancel commencement ceremonies this year. We did everything possible to organize in-person events to honor our seniors. However, with the recent increase in numbers of individuals testing positive for COVID-19, Governor Eric Holcomb announced yesterday that the next phase of Indiana’s reopening plan has been delayed. Based on this announcement, and after consulting with our local health department, it was determined we cannot proceed with gatherings of over 250 people. Even if spectators are eliminated, four of our high schools have graduating classes over this number. Again, we are sorry that our seniors will not be able to formally gather to celebrate this important milestone. The EVSC is proud of what our students have accomplished, and we join you in wishing them a future filled with great success.
14 News spoke with 2020 EVSC graduates, who shared similar thoughts. Many families across the county were appreciative of the safety measures to keep their children safe, but also expect some sort of celebration for their graduates.
“It’s heartbreaking, honestly,” 2020 North High School graduate Ethan Scott said. “To work 12 years, and then have this taken away. You only get one chance at a high school graduation in your whole life. It’s just heartbreaking not to be able to share those last moments with my friends.”
Scott says there are more than 1,000 students in his graduating class, but remains hopeful that EVSC can find an alternative way to honor him and his classmates.
“There are several alternatives across the country,” Scott said. “I feel like there’s more they could do to give us what we deserve, and they’re not doing it.”
Gracie Brown is a 2020 Reitz High School graduate, who had already purchased a graduation dress when she received the news on Thursday.
“I was just really upset,” Brown said. “All of my friends started calling me and everything, and we were all just really upset. My best friend even came over, and we had both cried a little bit. We were all just really sad, because we had expected to have, at least, a little bit of a happier ending. But it didn’t work out that way.”
“For them to just offer nothing, was really heartbreaking for me as a mom,” Kristen Brown, Gracie’s mother said. “Because I remember my senior year - the last moments, and it makes me think she didn’t get that. But surely they’re going to give her something, and then to hear there was no option at all was really frustrating and upsetting.”