PAYSON, Utah (ABC4 News) – Creative, unique, and historic. Those are just a few words to describe the efforts to celebrate the class of 2020 by many school districts around Utah due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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Between virtual graduations, postponed commencements, maintaining social distance, and abiding by state health official guidelines, finding ways to keep students and parents safe played a major part in planning celebration events.

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The same is true for the Nebo school district’s Payson High School. On Wednesday May 20, the school held a celebration out of the norm, with what they call “hybrid graduation”. After taking suggestions from students regarding what the school should do, the main factor was knowing the students just wanted to be together in some form. “With the team of admin and counselors I think we found a great way to honor our class of 2020 seniors and allow them every opportunity to keep themselves safe,” says Kevin Mecham Assistant Principal of Payson High School.

Katie Kelly, media relations for Payson High School tells ABC4 “The cars pulled into our parking lot for the ceremony, then afterwards they kind of had a drive-thru diploma pick up. The students got out of their cars one by one and walked across a red carpet to pick up their diploma.”

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As an added bonus for students, parents, and community spectators, Payson High School also organized a fireworks show on Wednesday evening. One parent says the fireworks “were a nice way to wrap up the day for Payson High seniors.”

Dr. RaShel Shepherd, Principal of Payson High School tells ABC4 “we have greatly missed the human connection we had with our students prior to March 13, 2020. As a result, we were so grateful to have that connection again, in our cars, celebrating our graduates together. It was an amazing experience to see the creative, unique experience our faculty and community created for our graduates. “

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To make these special events happen it takes a team effort with lots of moving parts, Dr. David Rockwood, Assistant Principal at Payson High School said “the whole community really rallied around the class of 2020 to give them an extraordinary experience befitting these extraordinary times. At the end of the day, the broad smiles of pride and tears of joy from the graduates and their families made all of the hard work and planning worth it.”

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