COCOA BEACH, Fla. – Seniors with the Class of 2020 at Cocoa Beach Junior/Senior High School celebrated their graduation during a socially distant ceremony Saturday morning.
The ceremony was live-streamed on the school’s YouTube channel. Principal Dr. Mark Rendell said this walk was a long time coming for the students.
“Most graduates at this time comment about how long they have waited for this moment to come. Well, Class of 2020, you have certainly waited longer than any other class to have this moment,” Rendell said during his pre-recorded speech.
Almost two months after the school year ended, the seniors finally got their moment to celebrate all of their accomplishments. The ceremony featured pre-recorded speeches from six valedictorians and in-person “bridge crossings.”
The students reflected on the year. Valedictorian Declan Ridgeway called it an emotional roller coaster and said the COVID-19 pandemic robbed them of their senior memories.
Honestly, I know a lot of us were bummed out about grad bash being canceled or prom or the musical or the concerts that were planned and I’ll admit I was too,” Ridgeway said. “We never really got to say our proper goodbyes because we didn’t realize those days before quarantine would be our last days in the school and that sucks.”
But they said it was also a year to learn and grow. Valedictorian Christina Tomacari reflected on how like the pandemic, life after graduation will have its challenges.
"This year has opened our eyes to the erratic nature of life and given us the ability to realize it does not revolve around us," Tomacari said.
During the ceremony, the graduates practiced social distancing and wore masks until it was their turn to receive their diploma. One by one they walked across a bridge in the courtyard at the school and paused at the top to throw a penny in the water below. The school said this is a symbol of their transition into the future.
"On the bright side we're definitely going to be able to brag about how we had the most interesting senior year," Ridgeway said.
Brevard County schools will host high school graduations through July 25. Click here for more information.