Mar Vista High School (MVHS) hosted a multitude of graduation activities over the last couple of weeks to make up for the lack of a formal graduation ceremony for the class of 2020. They plan to have a formal graduation ceremony some time before December, depending on the state of COVID-19. Jessica Neamon is the Assistant Principal of Student Activities, and she played a huge role in organizing these activities for the seniors. While the Imperial Beach community put on a parade of decorated cars for the seniors, the events mentioned here were all school sanctioned.
On Thursday, June 4, Sweetwater Union High School District (SUHSD) organized a car parade for the class of 2020 at Southwestern College. Seniors from high schools all over the district decorated their cars and gathered their families to celebrate their accomplishments. It was a long day out in the sun. Neamon said, “I’ve never been more exhausted, but I would do it 100 times over.” She expressed just how joyous of an event it was for not only the seniors, but the staff as well.
Erica Rodriguez is a member of the class of 2020, and she was at the parade. She said, “It was super cool the way that every school came together to show us that they’re proud of us. Everyone cheered as we drove past and congratulated us; it’s something I won’t forget!”.
While the parade wasn’t specific to MVHS, Neamon organized various other activities that were just for MVHS seniors. On Wednesday, June 10, MVHS held a “Senior Celebration Day,” in which the seniors could pick up all the items they purchased before school was interrupted, such as yearbooks, sashes, and clothing. The seniors were instructed to enter via the alley on the east side of the school that opens up to Elm Avenue. The alley way was lined with congratulatory signs and green and gold decorations. After the seniors emerged from the alley, they made a loop around the parking lot in their cars, stopping at various stations to pick up their items. Music was playing loudly, and the staff was there to cheer the students as they circled around the parking lot. It was a well organized, heartwarming event.
Students who achieve California Scholarship Federation (CSF) membership are typically celebrated with a breakfast at MVHS. These students have maintained academic excellence throughout the majority of their time in high school, so at the end of the year they are honored along with their family and a teacher of their choice for their efforts in maintaining a certain GPA. This year the CSF breakfast was canceled in order to abide by the county’s social distancing policy, but the MVH staff wasn’t going to let that stop them from celebrating their students. Shizuka Baker and Gisela Villarreal Wolfe manage the CSF program at MVHS. They, along with the student’s teachers of choice, went to over 50 CSF member’s homes over two days to personally congratulate them over two eight hour days. They brought each student their sashes and certificates, as well as a bundt cake to make up for their lost breakfast. Baker said, “It was really amazing to see the students and their parents, they were so happy.”
There are signs all over lawns in IB that read “Class of 2020 Interrupted, #allinthistogether.” None of the students had to pay for these signs. MVHS raised $2000, and the community of IB donated $2800 so that every student at Mar Vista could get a yard sign, no charge. Neamon said, “I thought it was a great way to celebrate seniors. I teamed up with Shawna Chalmers, Shawn Fiewiger, and Steve Berry to come up with a plan so that no MVHS senior would have to pay for a sign.”
On Friday, May 15, the seniors were highlighted on MVHS’ social media. They posted a picture of each senior and what their plans were for after graduation. The staff also put together a video congratulating the seniors and sending them their love. Various teachers and staff members held up signs with messages for the seniors such as, “We got this!” or, “Miss you all, stay safe.” You can find the link to this video in the bio of the “marinerasb” instagram account.
The MVHS staff wanted to do everything in their power to give their students the recognition they deserve. Neamon explained that despite this not being the ideal situation, it’s shown her just how powerful the community can be when they come together. She hopes that this will inspire not only MVHS, but other high schools to continue to be creative in their efforts to plan events like this in the future.