Nearly a year ago, Manteca High did a drive-thru graduation event.
Plans for this year – amid the COVID-19 pandemic – will be a drive-in commencement exercises for the Class of 2021.
“We will have a graduation for our seniors,” Principal Frank Gonzales happily announced on Tuesday.
Crossroad Grace Community Church will host this first-ever drive-in event on Friday, May 28.
Manteca High is no stranger to the church located at 1505 Moffat Blvd. “That’s where we have our baccalaureate (ceremonies),” said Gonzales.
He noted that each member of the graduating class will receive one ticket per carload for their families to attend.
Families will be directed to park in the designated unpaved area of the church grounds, watching video of the graduating class on several screens reminiscent of the old drive-in movie theater.
“They’ll have to tune in to the radio station (for the audio) from their cars,” Gonzales said.
The graduates, meanwhile, will be seated – social-distance apart – on the blacktop or paved parking area of the church.
From there, the classmates will be able to enjoy all of the Pomp & Circumstance of a traditional ceremony, receiving their diplomas on a staging area with guests celebrating from the comforts of their vehicles.
They’ll be led by valedictorian Ravine Nijjar and salutatorian Kayson Neduvakkattu. Both were just announced for their achievements of top academic students.
“I’m happy that we’re have a graduating,” said Nijjar, who spent a good portion of the past year distance learning.
Neduvakkattu was equally excited.
“It’s too bad that last year’s senior couldn’t experience (a traditional) graduation,” he said.
Due to lack of sufficient outdoor lighting in that area of Crossroad Grace Community Church, MHS opted for earlier start time that day at 5:30 p.m.
Gonzales is thrilled to have a place for this year’s graduating class. He missed out a year ago on a far-from-traditional event for his own daughter, Isabella, who was a MHS 2020 graduate.
“I’m happy for this class. It’s a really great bunch of kids,” Gonzales said.