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CHS Class of 2020 GraduationThe Columbia High School Class of 2020 returned to campus on Saturday after more than three months since schools were closed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Proudly dressed in their blue and white caps and gowns, and wearing masks on their faces, the graduates walked across a stage on the turf field and received their high school diplomas in an unconventional but still celebratory graduation ceremony.

Kason Romanowski holding diploma

Kason Romanowski ’20 holding his high school diploma during Columbia High School’s graduation ceremony.

In order to maintain the safety of everyone involved, the school hosted 10 small ceremonies with 30 graduates, and their parents, at each event. Chairs were spaced apart and everyone in attendance wore masks in compliance with current health regulations.

“This was really special. I think it was even better than it would have been at Hudson Vally because it’s right where we’ve been these last four years,” said Lindsey Conboy ’20, who will be studying environmental engineering at Cornell University.

Each ceremony began with graduates processing onto the turf field to pomp and circumstance and then sitting with their parents. After the Pledge of Allegiance, National Anthem and a brief welcome address from Principal Michael Harkin, each graduate had their name read aloud, walked across the stage and received their diploma. Each graduate had their photo taken with their parents at a photography station before leaving campus.

Principal Michael Harkin addressing the Columbia Class of 2020

Principal Michael Harkin addressing the Columbia Class of 2020.

“I’m very, very proud of this Class of 2020,” said Mr. Harkin. “It was not an easy year. You guys had adversity from the beginning of the year right to the end, but no matter what happened, you rose to the challenge, you finished and you beat the odds. You are now forever Columbia High School graduates.”

In between each ceremony, district staff sanitized the seats, handrails to the stage and the bathrooms to ensure the health and safety of guests.

The graduation ceremonies were live streamed on the school website and on social media so friends and family could watch from home. A video will be produced by the district that includes all of the diploma ceremonies and the pre-recorded speeches from students and staff. That video will be shared with all graduates and their parents when it is available.

Congratulations to the Columbia Class of 2020!

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