Curbside congratulations

Uzziel Zarate picked up his diploma at RTHS Thursday dressed in his cap and gown.

While Rochelle Township High School is unable to hold any type of graduation ceremony until mid-summer, it recently held a modified drive-up event for students who still wanted their diplomas in May. 

RTHS held its drive-up diploma hand out on Thursday, May 21 from 3 to 5 p.m. and Friday, May 22 from 9 to 11 a.m. Students lined their vehicles along the side of the school and wrapped around into the parking lot to avoid backing up Flagg Road. 

Graduates were directed one-by-one to the front parking lot of the building, where staff members stood along the sidewalk and congratulated them. A tent with Principal Chris Lewis was set up at the front of the line.

Each car would stop, the principal said their name, handed them their diploma and congratulated them. While this was not the big ceremony students looked forward to for four years, they understand the tough situation the school is currently in.

“I think the school did the best it could under the given circumstances,” said graduating senior Austin Greifenkamp. “I would obviously rather have a normal graduation ceremony, but I really appreciate what they have done.” 

Some seniors wore their cap and gowns in their vehicles as they received their diplomas, while others decorated their vehicles with balloons or paint. Many of the graduating seniors were sad about missing out on a traditional ceremony, but all of them were still happy to be receiving their diplomas. 

“While it stinks that we aren’t getting our diplomas like everybody else before us, I am just really glad to be getting it,” said graduating senior Brayden Bonilla.

RTHS currently has plans to host a new graduation ceremony on Aug. 1 at 10 a.m. and will release more information as the date approaches. While the date is set for now, the school would like to remind students and families that nothing is definite. 

 “We made the best out of the situation we had,” Lewis said. “We had kids that wanted their diploma and we are glad to be able to provide that opportunity. We are looking ahead to August but nobody can be sure, no plans are definite.” 

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