The social distancing and related procedures necessary to keep people safe during the COVID-19 pandemic certainly have affected many of life’s favorite and most memorable moments this year.
But thanks to a good measure of imagination, creativity, practicality and logistical effort, administrators at Bloomsburg University were able to preserve some of the most fulfilling moments for students who have worked for years to earn the opportunity to don a gown and walk across a stage in the presence of their family.
On Sunday, Bloomsburg University staged a unique ceremony at the Haas Center for the Arts on campus that enabled graduates to hear their name called out, walk up to university President Bashar Hanna and receive their degree, all while following COVID-19 safety protocols.
The procedure followed all recommended facial mask and social distancing guidelines. Graduates pre-registered and were given specific time frames in which to arrive. Once inside the Haas Center, the graduates and their families stood together in pre-marked squares that were placed socially distanced from each other and advanced from one square to the next as a family unit until they reached the auditorium stage. Once there, names were announced and the graduates walked across the stage to receive a greeting and their degree from Hanna, who also stood for photos with each family.
“It’s a whole lot better than watching your photo flash across on a computer screen,” graduate Dylan Dannefelser, of Milton, told us on Sunday.
The university’s graduation ceremony is another in a series of innovative local events staged by local residents this year to comply with COVID safety standards, including a “reverse Halloween parade” for children in Sunbury and the “Mask-a-rade” Halloween night activities in downtown Lewisburg.
Local event organizers, school administrators and business owners — especially those who operate restaurants — have proven repeatedly that if health safety guidelines are clear, they can and will find ways to make things work.
Bloomsburg University did that on Sunday, and they will offer a virtual ceremony on Dec. 12 for graduates who prefer that option. Graduate McKenzie Golden of Selinsgrove said she chose the in-person ceremony because “I am a first-generation college student and figured this would be a good experience for me and for my family.”
Her father, Scott, could not agree more. “It’s an awesome day to be here and see her walk across the stage.”
NOTE: Opinions expressed in The Daily Item’s editorials are the consensus of the publisher, top newsroom executives and community members of the editorial board. Today’s was written by Digital Editor Dave Hilliard.