High school graduation season is not yet over in Montezuma County: Southwest Open School’s ceremony is set for July 31.
While other high schools in Montezuma County held drive-thru commencements, the 20 graduating seniors at the alternative SWOS decided to delay their graduation so that they could hold an in-person ceremony.
“If you ask any of our students to describe the school, they’ll say that it’s one big family,” said SWOS Director Matt Keefauver. “And they wanted that one big family graduation experience, where they can honor one another at that same time.”
Keefauver said the graduates met over Zoom and discussed their commencement, which will be smaller and shorter than previous ceremonies.
“Our students are in charge of a lot of their own events and happenings, and they got together on a Zoom call and decided they’d rather have some kind of traditional graduation,” Keefauver said.
He spoke with Bobbi Lock, director of the Montezuma County Public Health Department, who laid out some parameters. Since the coronavirus is expected to be “less virulent” in July and August, they scheduled the graduation to take place July 31, he said.
The ceremony will be at the SWOS campus and invitation-only, with two guests per graduate. It will be livestreamed as well, and those attending are encouraged to share their commencement videos on social media, Keefauver said.
A hand sanitizing station will be on hand, and guests will be asked to wear a mask. SWOS is providing custom masks for its graduates, in the school colors of purple and black – with a patch featuring the SWOS dragon mascot. Everyone will be spaced 6 feet apart, Keefauver said.
After the ceremony, students will take part in a short parade in front of the school campus along the North Dolores Road, to allow family members who couldn’t attend to cheer on their students, likely from within parked vehicles.
The ceremony will begin at 6 p.m. and the parade. about 6:45 p.m.
“It’s as close as we can get to traditional graduation,” Keefauver said. “The kids, I think, were really mature in saying ‘Yes, we can wait’ for a time where we can have that experience.”