As finals week begins to wind down seniors begin to look forward to life after graduation. But for these college graduates this weekend will be much different than that of years past.
No stage to walk across.
No handshake from the president of the university.
No photographs with friends and family on the lawn of Dave Wolk Stadium.
Sara Stearns was looking forward to walking across that stage and celebrating her achievements with her closest friends. She even had a cap and gown shipped to her house so she could take pictures and send them to her friends.
“At first I was opening up the package and I was excited,” she said. “Every senior looks forward to putting on their cap and gown with their chosen outfit.”
But after putting it on and taking the picture to send to her friends she started to feel differently.
“It hit me that I wasn’t going to be seeing all of them dressed up wearing their caps and gowns, walking across the stage, finally meeting their parents and having all of our supporters celebrating us and our hard work and dedication,” she said.
It was at that moment she took it off, put it on a hanger in the closet and shut the door.
Many seniors and their families were planning on having celebrations of all different sizes. Some big, some small. Zach Gebo said his family was planning something pretty simple.
“My parents were planning a little barbeque with some local friends and families,” he said.
Gebo said that the plan is still to go ahead with the celebratory barbeque once the pandemic has ended. For now, his family is planning a special dinner, just Gebo, his parents and his sister.
For Kaylee Boutin, who has a very big family, things are also going to be pushed back. “Two of my cousins and I are graduating college this year and another two of my cousins are graduating high school,” she said.
Boutin and her family are planning a party for July where they will celebrate all of the graduations and birthdays that have passed during the pandemic. She said that they are also treating it like a family reunion.
“Hopefully this will all be over so we can have that huge party and celebrate all of our accomplishments,” she said.
There is no backup plan at this time for Boutin and her family.
Abby Gray said that her mom rented a lake house for a weekend where her entire family would be able to get together and celebrate.
“It’s a family tradition to have a graduation lunch with the whole family. I was also going to jump into the lake with my cap and gown,” Gray said with a laugh.
Luckily, they are still able to use the lake house for the weekend.
But only her parents, sister and brother-in-law will be there to celebrate.
“My grandparents and aunts and uncles didn’t feel safe coming all the way up here,” she said.
This is a difficult time for the graduating class of 2020. With no physical ceremony until 2021, many are hoping that their celebrations won’t be another thing ruined by the Covid-19 situation.
Stearns left her fellow graduates with a strong message.
“Although this is not how any of us planned on spending our final semester at Castleton, we still made it,” she said. “We have put in so many hours, anxiety attacks, tears and study sessions over the years. We finally reached the finish line.”