When Governor Inslee’s “Stay Home Stay Healthy” went into effect last spring, all in-person classes and events across the State moved online. Clover Park Technical College did not know when, or even if, large events would be permitted again.
One of the first considerations was how the Class of 2020 graduates would get to celebrate the completion of their studies.
A virtual ceremony was out: students responding to a survey had made clear it was not of interest to the graduating class. And after months of Zoom meetings, the last thing anyone wanted to do was have yet another one.
With this in mind, Celebration Planning Committee co-chairs, Cal Erwin-Svoboda, Director of Student Life and Jenn Adrien, Director of Marketing and Communications, worked quickly with the rest of the team to come up with a big answer to a big question. How do we honor our graduates’ achievements in the middle of a pandemic?
The committee brainstormed ideas and kept up with evolving State guidelines on social distancing. They took inspiration from what other schools were doing – drive-through diploma pick-ups, parades, lots of swag – and just like that, the Celebration of Graduates was born. “We put together all our creativity to pivot to this new idea,” said Erwin-Svoboda. “The Class of 2020 made it abundantly clear that they and their families wanted an in-person event without having to wait until 2021, so we did our best to make that happen in a way that was safe for everyone.”
The result was a mad dash to put together the 2020 Celebration of Graduates in just 45 days. Getting the word out to the College community, ordering thousands of commemorative items, stuffing hundreds of gift boxes, and turning the Lakewood campus into a one-way drive took a large crew of people to make the Celebration of Graduates a memorable day for everyone.
And what a day it was! For two hours, a steady stream of 400 graduates honked and beeped their way through campus. Perimeter Drive was lined with over 100 faculty and staff, who cheered until they were hoarse, shook pompoms, blew thousands of bubbles, clanged hundreds of cowbells, and waved signs of good wishes to carloads of joyful people. Music from DJ Murta lent a festival-like atmosphere and eyes crinkled above face coverings, a sign of the broad smiles beneath.
“The joy and pride on the faces of our graduates and their families made it an amazing experience,” said Dr. Joyce Loveday, president of the College. “Having everyone on campus to celebrate our Class of 2020 together was a terrific morale booster for our entire College community after having spent so much time apart.”
Every graduate received a commemorative CPTC box meant to serve as a festive time capsule: cap, green-and-purple tassel, purple cord, diploma cover, booklet of graduates’ names, pompom, felt pennant, CPTC face mask, and a note with the event hashtag (#CPTCgrad2020). Grads and their families are welcome to download images from the gallery at gallery.1000wordsevents.com/CPTC-Drive-by-Graduation/.
Please watch the College’s social media channels – Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn – for the video to be shared soon.