NEW BERLIN — A drive-thru Senior Celebration at SUN Area Technical Institute on Wednesday had seniors and parents grateful for the opportunity but yearning for something more.
Due to the COVID-19 crisis, an in-person graduation ceremony is not allowed for the Class of 2020. The event was planned for students to receive their diploma/certificate and any awards from their instructors. Students stopped at stations to pick up their yearbook, tumbler, yard sign, transcripts, and Program of Study documents.
“It’s nice that they put it all together, but it will never live up to real graduation,” said H-VAC student Ethan Zevan, 18, of Midd-West School District.
His mother Lindsay Zevan said Ethan is her first child to graduate.
“It’s a disappointment that we have to do it this way, but it’s also a happy time,” she said. “I appreciate everything they are doing, I appreciate the staff and faculty. They went to great effort and strides to make it special. They did their best, and hats off to them. They tried.”
Jaron Clark, 18, another H-VAC student from Selinsgrove Area School District, was the top co-op student in the school. He has already started at his job in New Columbia.
“It’s really weird and different, but I’m proud,” said Clark of the event.
His parents, Jay Harris and Cristina Lawrence, said they were happy to be there with their son.
“I’m happy we were able to take pictures,” said Lawrence. “I would much rather do traditional graduation, but at least it’s something.”
The students in each program were spaced out between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.
“We’ve missed seeing them in classes,” administrative director Jennifer Hain. “We’re really wishing the school year would have ended up differently. We miss the students being here.”
To honor the graduates, SUN Tech plans to host a virtual public premier of the SUN Tech Class of 2020 Graduation and Awards Ceremony at 7 p.m. June 3. The event will be pre-recorded, and an internet link will be shared with families prior to the event.