Two surprise performers will help the University of Virginia celebrate the Class of 2020 virtually as it officially confers degrees to about 7,250 graduates on May 16.
The university is still planning to hold a graduation ceremony in-person in October of this year or May of 2021, depending on the guidelines and restrictions in place at the time. Final Exercises were postponed in March shortly after the university canceled classes on grounds because of COVID-19.
“This is an extraordinary and unusual time, and we are thrilled to have an opportunity to celebrate the many accomplishments of our students – and to mix in some surprises,” President Jim Ryan said in a news release.
The ceremony will begin at 1 p.m. with the first surprise performer, followed by UVa’s traditional Year-in-Review video that will include highlights from the school year. A student-led performance will follow the conferral of degrees. The second surprise entertainer and a student performance of “The Good Old Song” will wrap up the ceremony, expected to last 30 minutes.
A committee of students, faculty and staff planned the virtual event.
Ryan will deliver remarks to the Class of 2020 as requested by students and the committee, according to the release.
The virtual ceremony will be streamed at virginia.edu/live and on social media.
“... I hope this will be a memorable celebration, but we recognize it’s not the same as walking the Lawn for our graduating students and their families,” Ryan said. “We are looking forward to gathering again in either October or the spring of 2021 to see the Class of 2020 process down the Lawn for what I think will be one of the most joyful moments in the history of UVa.”
Charlottesville City Schools is planning a virtual graduation and other activities to recognize the Class of 2020 at Charlottesville High School.
Students will have the chance later this month to walk across a graduation stage and take a photo in their cap and gown with a blank diploma cover. Actual diplomas will be mailed later this summer.
The high school is planning a “victory lap” experience for students and their families on May 14 and May 15.
Students can drive around the school’s parking lot and take photos at designated stations. One station will be the graduation stage. There, seniors will cross the stage as their name is announced while family members stay in the car.
Students can sign up for time slots from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. on both days.
“We have a real heart for this year’s senior class,” schools Superintendent Rosa Atkins said in a news release. “All of our students have experienced loss, but senior year is truly a special time. So we are finding new ways to show love and honor to our young people.”
A video featuring photos from the graduation stage and speeches will be released at 7 p.m. on June 4, when the graduation ceremony was originally scheduled, on social media and on local cable channel 14.
CHS also is highlighting its senior class through social media posts and preparing yard signs for families to display in honor of their graduates.
“I am so proud of these students,” CHS Principal Eric Irizarry said in the release. “Their spirit and resilience have been proven over and over again. We invite the community to help see and honor the Class of 2020.”
More information is available at charlottesvilleschools.org/grad2020.