PUEBLO — Coronavirus has upended plans for many of us, in particular the class of 2020. School District 60 in Pueblo has been working on virtual commencement ceremonies, but there's also a grassroots movement planning to hold an in-person celebration of the graduates this July.
The group is called We Stand Together for Graduation on Facebook, and those helping to organize the event said they have booked the ThunderBowl Stadium at Colorado State University-Pueblo for July 24 and 25. Currently, the plan is to hold a celebration for Centennial High School, Paragon Learning Center, and Dutch Clark Digital concurrently starting at 8 a.m. on July 24. Central High School is scheduled to follow on the 24, starting at 11 a.m. On July 25, South High School's ceremony is expected to begin at 8 a.m., with East High School concluding the event at 11 a.m.
Shari Krasovic is one of the people helping organize the event, and also a parent of a senior at Central High School. Krasovic said the event will be outdoors, and will follow the CDC's and local health official's guidelines. "Our seniors who are participating will wear masks... We want the seniors, of course, spaced that social distancing of six feet apart," said Krasovic.
Krasovic also told News5 that the celebration would have a limited number of people allowed to attend. She said more than likely, seniors would select who they would like to come. However, she said the reality is the event could be canceled. "We're going to be watching it and closely monitoring it on a daily basis, because this can change, especially if a second wave of the virus should impact our community," said Krasovic.
Still, she said the group's goal is to give their children some hope. "You get to see all your friends and have that closure with them, before you probably won't see them again. Some of them are going to the Armed Forces. I know I have one of my friends going to the Navy, and I won't probably be able to see them for a while, you just never know after that," said Krasovic's son Nicholas, who is a senior at Central High School.
Krasovic said the group purchased liability insurance before they booked the venue, and attendees would have to sign a waiver stating they understand the risks before going to the event. News5 also asked if We Stand Together for Graduation has spoken with the Pueblo Department of Public Health and Environment. Krasovic said they have not spoken directly with a representative, but have reached out online and a member of the department sent them the state's guidance for events.
News5 also spoke with a Centennial High School Student supporting We Stand Together for Graduation, Liberty Shay, who said "it's been really devastating not being able to finish out the senior year with my class."
Shay's mother, Marla, said she wants to give her daughter the experience of celebrating this accomplishment with her classmates. However, she said School District 60 is going above and beyond in the making of the virtual graduations. "I do think when they put it all together, it's probably going to come together a lot better than we're even anticipating. It just is hard not being able to share it with them," said Marla Shay.
We Stand Together for Graduation has also started raising money to pay for expenses associated with the event at ThunderBowl Stadium, which did not charge the group at full cost. The group's goal is to raise $20,000 in the next two weeks. Donations reached $1,000 in one day. If the event has to be canceled, Krasovic said the money will go back to supporting the students in some way, such as a foundation or booster club.