After spending their final year of high school apart, San Francisco seniors will be able to celebrate graduation together with in-person ceremonies.
San Francisco Unified School District and The City will host staggered outdoor ceremonies from June 1-3, officials announced Tuesday. The socially distanced events with limited guests allowed will be held at Kezar Stadium in Golden Gate Park and McAteer High School overlooking Glen Canyon Park.
“Graduation is a special time for our students and their loved ones,” Mayor London Breed said in a statement. “While this year has been anything but a normal senior year for our high school students, we’re glad we can help bring some semblance of normalcy to this year’s graduation ceremonies.”
SFUSD has an estimated 4,000 graduating seniors this year, according to the Mayor’s Office. Students will be six feet apart and will have tickets for up to four guests, who will also be seated six feet apart from other family pods. There will be at least two hours in between ceremonies to allow for cleaning and transitioning to different ceremonial setups.
Student school board delegates Kathya Correa Almanza and Shavonne Hines-Foster said they had hoped graduation ceremonies would happen and were grateful that district staff was responsive to their requests.
Now, the seniors are preparing to see their classmates in the same in-person setting — and hoping some sort of prom can still become a reality.
“We’ve changed so much since we’ve seen each other appearance-wise, how we identify, all these different things,” said Correa Almanza, who attends June Jordan School for Equity. “It’s very fun to think about how it’s going to be like, it’s like a reunion. It’s been so long.”
Correa Almanza added that some people, particularly those in high-risk households, are still nervous about the idea but there’s less fear than before. Many of her classmates worked through the pandemic and have been vaccinated like her.
Larger high schools — which include Burton, Balboa, O’Connell, Mission, Lincoln, Galileo, Washington, Lowell and Ruth Asawa School of the Arts — will be at Kezar Stadium.
Smaller schools like Downtown, Hilltop, Ida B. Wells, June Jordan School for Equity, Youth Chance, SF International, The Academy SF, Independence and Civic Center Secondary, will have ceremonies at McAteer High School.
“I’m so happy our seniors will be able to celebrate this important moment in their lives in the company of their teachers, peers and families,” said Superintendent Vincent Matthews. “Just like our schools, our city’s public spaces are there for our children and families. I’m grateful we have come together to find a way to safely mark this momentous occasion.”
Schedules for each high school are posted at sfusd.edu/2021graduation.
Planning for ceremonies adhering to public safety guidelines at just two sites eases planning and costs, the Mayor’s Office noted. Fundraising is ongoing to provide audio and visuals for the audience to have close-up views and for the ceremonies to be live-streamed to those unable to make it.
Last year’s graduating class did not have an in-person ceremony.