SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — Graduates from the class of 2020 were finally able to walk across the stage to accept their diplomas after their graduation ceremonies were canceled last year.
The Savannah-Chatham Public School System held a “Rainbow Ceremony” Friday to honor the students who finished high school in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Students from more than six different schools reunited with their peers. Their family members were also able to attend the graduation at Savannah State’s at T.A. Wright Stadium.
Many said it was worth the wait to be able to celebrate together.
“It felt amazing. They always supported me throughout my entire high school and school career so being able to have them beside me as I walked across the stage was just amazing,” Herschel V. Jenkins High School Class of 2020 graduate Quantre Austin told WSAV NOW.
“It’s overwhelming,” his grandfather said. “My first grandchild, it’s overwhelming. I am so, so proud.”
Associate Superintendent Bernadette Ball-Oliver says she’s glad the class can participate in the long-awaited tradition.
“Unlike last year, when the pandemic forced us to cancel the ceremonies, the district is pleased to have the opportunity to show our seniors how much we value and love each of them,” Ball-Oliver said.
Herschel V. Jenkins High School Naval Science Instructor Russel Burns says it was nice to reunite with students he never got the chance to say goodbye to after virtual learning began.
“I haven’t seen them since March of last year when we went on spring break and never came back,” Burns said. “It’s a pleasure to get to see them graduate.”
Class of 2020 Valedictorian of Savannah Early College Mariah George and her boyfriend Jacobi Busano, of Sol C. Johnson High School, say it was important for them to attend the ceremony because it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience they didn’t want to miss.
“Now that COVID has been contained, it’s great to see my friends again,” Busano said.
Savannah Arts Academy class of 2020 graduates Nehemiah and Jeramiah Turner are attending Georgia State University to continue studying music.
“Seeing all the other schools here today knowing we all went through the same thing and being to all celebrate together was nice,” Nehemiah said.