Seniors depart with Sunset graduation
More than 90 students from the Cameron High School Class of 2020 received a sense of closure with Friday night’s Sunset Graduation Ceremony.
Despite COVID-19 social distancing measures in effect, seniors came together for one last time before departing to college, trade school or wherever their future endeavors take them.
“Congratulations, it’s July 31st and you finally got to graduate,” senior Spencer Ice said. “I bet you never thought this day would come. As 2020 seniors, we had quite the rollercoaster ride. By the end, it looked like half of the bolts on the rollercoaster hadn’t been tightened and it may have been put together by a 3 year old.”
Ice’s comments came following a whirlwind year for 2020 seniors. Originally scheduled for May, amidst a citywide state of emergency during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, school officials held a simulated graduation ceremony in case COVID-19 forced cancellation of the traditional sunset ceremony at Dave Goodwin Field. Seniors later participated in a senior parade over the summer, but for Brenna Bontrager nothing compared to participating in Friday’s graduation ceremony.
“It wasn’t until [Gov. Mike Parson] called off school for the rest of the year that it hit me. It suddenly became so real so fast. I realized there would never be another Friday night spent in the student section with all of my friends or another school dance where we spent both way too much time and money getting ready,” Bontrager said. “… I know a lot of us took for granted our years at Cameron High School and we were not ready for it to be taken away from us early because of a global pandemic. We also learned living through history is not as much fun as you think it would be. I so badly wish we could go back for just one day. One day to walk down those halls again and try to make it to our next class before the late bell. Just one day to see all of our friends and just be a kid again. Just one more day to say goodbye to all of the staff that meant so much to us.”
With 140 confirmed COVID-19 cases across the district’s four-county area, including two directly linked to the recent CHS wrestling camp, social distancing was top priority Friday night. Many of the attendees wore makes and attempted to separate their groups, limited to eight per senior, as best they could while seated in the grandstands. Instead of sitting shoulder to shoulder, 2020 seniors had about 3 feet between each chair. Although a recorded rendition of ‘Pomp and Circumstance’ blared through the stadium speakers instead of from the Cameron Dragon Band, senior Elizabeth Leigh Iris Stamper said she considered it a blessing to get one more time to say goodbye to her classmates.
“I’m excited to finally have closure to high school and not have any questions like ‘What’s it like to have a graduation - a real one?’ It was really nice to be able to come back and see all of my classmates, the principals, everyone and just have my family all there and cheering for me,” said Stamper, who plans to attend John Hopkins University this fall to study chemistry. “It’s amazing. One of the things I’m going to miss going off to college is being part of a tight-knit community, where I know so many people will stick out their neck for you and go to that length to make sure you get the recognition you deserve … I didn’t go to the schools that are meant to prepare you for a degree, but my school really has.”