REDWOOD CITY, Calif., (KRON) — A high school in Redwood City found a special way to surprise their senior class despite the COVID-19 pandemic as graduation season is quickly approaching.

Teachers and administrators from Design Tech High School surprised seniors at their homes throughout the Bay Area with a small graduation ceremony in an effort by the school to find a way to celebrate their students hard work in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I decided to focus efforts on 12th grade advisors going out with grad kits, lawn signs, and wanting capture it all on video,” Design Tech High School principal Melissa Mizel said. It was a pretty special moment in time.”

On May 2, each senior was visited at their home as their 12th grade advisor surprised students with their cap and gown as teachers and administrants kept a safe distance holding up lawn signs as a way to celebrate their graduation.

“We love our seniors and have seen the obstacles and challenges they have endured over the years. We knew this was super different and zoom calls just weren’t enough,” Mizel said. “We know we can’t replace the final moments of a senior year but we are continuing to find the little things that might make kids and staff smile.”

With shelter-in-place orders forcing schools to finish out the year online, many seniors had their final moments as high school students abruptly come to an end.

For teachers and administrators having to switch classes online has brought its own challenges but seeing their students after weeks of being away from them to celebrate an important academic milestone was special.

“It was a mix of emotions. I was overwhelmed with a mix of joy, elation, sadness and nostalgia,” Mizel said. “But the joy of seeing the kids was so great, that took over … the advisors were truly over joyed. Parents were crying. Advisers had big smiles on their faces.” 

With traditional graduation ceremonies unable to take place because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Mizel tells KRON4 the high school will continue to find ways to make sure their seniors get their recognition.

“We miss our students so much but are also seeing this shelter in place as an opportunity to grow closer as a community,” Mizel said. “It’s not easy work, and our seniors are at the top of our thinking, but we will continue to keep trying.”

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