It was an afternoon of celebration – albeit from a safe distance – as 144 graduates crossed the stage set up in front of the high school as their parents and siblings cheered them on from their vehicles during the Class of 2020 Bishop High School car parade and commencement ceremony held Friday.
Because of social distancing guidelines brought about because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Bishop Consolidated Independent School District had to forgo the traditional graduation format this year. For families and friends unable to attend because of the restrictions, the ceremony was broadcast on social media as well as on the radio.
The event began with a car parade through the streets of Bishop for the soon-to-be graduates, beginning at the city park and concluding at the high school. Upon reaching the campus, students exited the vehicles and lined up, one-by-one and six feet apart outside the front of the high school.
Individual diplomas were placed inside a small vase next to the stage to minimize contact with school personnel during the ceremony. Students then posed for photos on the stage before returning to their vehicles and entering the campus’s parking lot to view the rest of the ceremony.
Athletic awards were also handed out during commencement for student athletes, as the district was unable to hold its annual sports banquet this year because of the pandemic.
After receiving their diplomas, graduates and their families were able to take additional pictures at designated backdrops placed along the campus perimeter.
Once all senior graduates had crossed the stage, Superintendent Christina Gutierrez addressed the audience and thanked administrators and staff who she said worked hard to make the event possible.
“I am forever grateful for your persistence and creativity in putting this together,” she said.
Class salutatorian Victoria Pimentel followed the superintendent with her salutatory address, where she outlined the things that she believes in after four years in high school: growth, perseverance and having a strong support system.
“I’m sure we are all tired of hearing about COVID-19, but I feel as one of the major challenges of our generation, we will all persevere and become a better and stronger generation for it,” Pimentel said.
Pimentel also thanked her teachers, family, friends and fellow graduates during her speech. She concluded by telling her classmates to never forget what they believe in or who they are as individuals.
“I wish you all nothing but the best,” she said. “And I hope the future brings you everything you have ever wanted and more.”
Valedictorian Alyssa Trejo ended the ceremony with her valedictory speech where she reflected on the class’s journey through high school leading up to that evening’s graduation.
“Although our spring semester was nowhere near what we had planned or hoped for, I am grateful to share this last precious moment of our high school experience with my fellow classmates and the rest of the Bishop community,” she said.
Trejo said her fellow seniors were “all destined for greatness” and urged them to “strive to be the best version of yourself, follow your dreams and live life.”
“Because you are all strong and intellectual individuals,” she said.
Trejo said they are graduating “during a time that will go down in history books, and our sacrifices, patience and dedication during this crisis will forever be remembered.”
“We have truly made our mark,” she said. “We have left a massive footprint on this Earth, and the world will never forget the Class of 2020.”