Cortez high school seniors are gearing up to graduate Thursday, and it’s set to be a citywide event.
Along with neighboring districts, the Montezuma-Cortez School District Re-1 has changed its commencement plans to meet the needs of the current COVID-19 landscape. This Thursday evening, graduates will take part in a parade on Seventh Street, followed by a drive-thru graduation ceremony at the high school.
“While this graduation is not what we originally envisioned, we are so excited to celebrate our seniors in a memorable way through our drive-thru graduation and parade of graduates,” said Re-1 Superintendent Lori Haukeness in a statement May 8. She also said the Montezuma County Public Health Department had approved the district’s plan.
The festivities will kick off at 5:30 p.m. with a “Parade of Graduates” on Seventh Street, heading eastbound beginning at Madison Street and ending at Sligo Street, where the high school is located.
Once seniors arrive at the high school, they will participate in a drive-thru graduation ceremony. Spectators will not be allowed to attend this part of the event, as it will be limited to seniors and their immediate family members, with two cars permitted per graduate.
“Seniors will have the opportunity to exit their cars and pick up their diplomas in a socially distanced manner, and parents and family can take pictures from their cars,” the May 8 statement reads. “Parents and family members may not leave their vehicles during the ceremony.”
The event will also be broadcast live on the KRTZ radio station, with seniors’ names and awards announced. It will also be video-taped, with a virtual “watch party” hosted by M-CHS on Saturday.
In order to watch the parade, onlookers are asked to remain in their parked vehicles throughout.
“In order to keep the focus on honoring our seniors and ensure we have a safe and positive celebration, we are asking that everyone respectfully follow the approved plan and remain in your vehicles throughout the event and parade,” Haukeness said in the statement.
Paradegoers can enter the parade route from Seventh and Madison streets between 4:30 and 5:20 p.m., and will be able to park on the north side of Seventh Street facing west. Law enforcement will be on hand to make sure the proceedings remain safe and orderly.
In honor of the graduates, banners for each of the seniors have been posted along the fence at Panther Stadium.