Iowa Central improvises for memorable ceremony

Pandemic prompted a virtual graduation

A college commencement ceremony is a time for graduating students to say goodbye to their school days and hello to their futures, surrounded by their friends and families. Those few hours in caps and gowns create cherished memories that last for a lifetime.

But what if a graduation ceremony just isn’t possible because of circumstances that are completely beyond the control of any student, professor or college administrator?

That was the situation the Iowa Central Community College class of 2021 found itself in. The class was ending its community college career as the COVID-19 pandemic lingers, and the social distancing guidelines necessary to combat the virus made a traditional in-person graduation inadvisable if not impossible.

However, the college’s administration, faculty and staff was not about to let the class of 2021 go without some kind of celebration of its accomplishments. Simply mailing the diplomas to the graduates was not an option.

So to honor the graduates, a virtual graduation was developed, and it premiered on the college’s website Thursday evening. It had all the elements of a traditional graduation: music, speeches, and graduates in caps and gowns. But none of the participants were on the campus that evening.

The speeches and music were all recorded earlier. The graduates were photographed in their caps and gowns weeks earlier. The college’s radio and TV production department crafted all of that into one program.

A total of 592 graduates participated.

The leadership of the college went above and beyond to create a meaningful and memorable graduation ceremony in unprecedented circumstances. The team did have some experience from the 2020 virtual graduation to rely on as they planned this year’s event.

The result was something that the class of 2021 will remember for a lifetime.


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