A Drive-In Graduation at ISB
Like high school and university graduates around the world, the ISB Class of 2020 was faced with the disappointing reality that due to the pandemic their graduation ceremony was not going to happen, at least in the traditional sense. After nearly a semester of virtual school and missing out on all of the time-honored traditions of senior year, the ISB High School team and parents felt passionately that graduation had to take place, one way or another. They got together in the early spring for a brain-storming session and came up with an idea.
Principal Justin Alexander, Dean of Academics Justyna McMillan, and Dean of Students Andy Vaughan understood quite well the predicament that the Class of 2020 faced and were determined to find a unique solution to celebrate our graduates. Given that there were some 140 graduating seniors, the prospects of getting the entire group together was not safe or realistic. With that the trio developed a plan that would get all of the graduating seniors onto the ISB campus, allow them to walk across the stage and receive their diploma just like a ‘normal’ graduation ceremony, while still maintaining the necessary physical distancing required.
1) Families were to sign up to enter the campus at 10-minute intervals over the course of four or five days. This would mean that only a few families would be on campus at one time. The graduation gowns were distributed to the graduates in the weeks leading up to the graduation.
2) Once the car was parked, the student and his/her family had time for photos outside of the Chevron Theater, and then in the foyer of the theater. While the normal venue for the ISB graduation ceremony is Rajendra Hall, the Chevron Theater was adorned with flowers and decorations befitting a grand graduation ceremony.
3) Once inside the Chevron, the senior was to make his/her entrance into the theater by descending the stairs to the sounds of “Pomp and Circumstance,” just as they would have on graduation day. The ISB tech crew under the excellent direction of Khun Sathit Kaivaivatana with assistance from a professional crew was ready to record the entire procession.
4) The graduating senior was then to walk across the graduation stage and have his/her diploma presented by the accompanying family members. They moved their tassels, threw their caps and a professional production team were there to capture each symbolic moment. The graduate and family were then given time to take more formal portraits and then photos in front of ISB’s iconic Panther before leaving campus.
5) The entire procession was scheduled to take 50 minutes per family with up to five families moving through the process at once. Thus, over the course of four or five days all 140 graduates could enter the campus, graduate with their family with them in a way that was safe but also celebratory.
6) Other graduation traditions like speeches, musical performances, formal pronouncements, and the reading of names were done individually and recorded over the course of the week.
7) Once all of the parts of what is being called the “Drive-In Graduation” had been recorded, the tech crew painstakingly spliced together the individual parts into a cohesive program. The final result was a seamless 2 hour event, which looked just like your typical ISB Graduation. It was streamed live at the scheduled graduation time and watched by thousands around the world. The graduation can still be seen here.
This spectacular creation was followed up by another unique event. A send-off that could only be achieved in our special Nichada Community, a golf-cart parade.
Celebrating the Class of 2020
Congratulations to the ISB High School team for coming up with such an elegant solution to such a difficult problem, and kudos to the outstanding ISB tech crew who made the final ISB Drive-In Graduation Ceremony look just like the regular one. And, in particular, special felicitations to the awesome ISB Class of 2020, the resulting ceremony was a tribute to their hard work, grit and determination over the final months of their senior year!