COLORADO SPRINGS — Come May, most high school graduates in southern Colorado will be handed their diplomas outside.
Colorado Springs School District 11 officials say they’ll allow graduates to have up to six guests in the stands at Garry Berry Stadium, where all of the district’s high schools will hold graduation this year. They say they will be handing graduates their diplomas this year--something they couldn’t do last year since there was so much uncertainty over the virus.
D11 is far from the only school district making the move outdoors. District 49 will hold its graduations at UC Health Stadium, where district officials tell News 5 they’ll likely keep holding it going forward.
D20 and D2 also say they’ll be hosting outdoor graduations.
Given where students started the school year, knowing they’ll be able to have a real, in-person ceremony with family in attendance, is not something they take for granted.
“So many things were up in the air at the beginning of the year,” Doherty High School senior Deanna Nisar said.
‘Normal’ is not a word she or her fellow classmates would use to characterize this past school year.
“Oh no not at all,” Doherty High School senior Zion Neville said.
It was supposed to be their year.
“We haven’t been able to do much this year,” Nisar said.
But they’ve felt isolated.
“Being inside for so long it makes you want to go and move out and move away and do something else other than just staring at the same wall,” Neville said.
For the tradition they’ve spent 13 years working toward, outside is exactly where they’re headed. To Garry Berry Stadium to be exact.
“It’s gonna probably be warm out, and who doesn’t like a little nature,” Neville said.
For D11 alumni, like athletic director Chris Noll, it’s a taste of nostalgia.
“For a long, long time, 30 plus years, Garry Berry Stadium was the home to all of the District 11 graduations,” Noll said.
But this year’s ceremony is much more for him.
“This year’s different,” he said. “This one’s different. I’ve got one that I’m pretty excited to watch.”
When the year started, he wasn’t sure he’d get to see his daughter get handed her diploma
“She’s super excited to be graduating from Garry Berry,” Noll said.
--She’s excited, and so are her classmates.
“I do like being outside just because Colorado is a beautiful state and enjoying the weather,” Nisar said.
‘I’m pretty ecstatic just to see everyone be able to walk across and then be proud of finishing up,” Neville said.
And now that word,’normal’, makes a little more sense to use.
“This year there were no guarantees,” NIsar said. “But I’m just really excited that I get to celebrate it with all my friends.”