JOHNSTON, Iowa — To say COVID-19 has taken its toll on schools and their students is an understatement, canceling entire sports seasons, traditions like prom, and even major life events like graduation.
But about three months after COVID-19 first appeared in Iowa, two high schools, Waukee and Johnston, finally got to hold their in-person graduation ceremonies - with social distancing measures in place, of course.
For Johnston, nearly 400 young men and women got to walk and receive their diplomas. Graduates were spaced out by six feet and family and friends were limited, but it was still something that was much needed.
"The act of walking across the stage, or in this case walking across the track, hearing your name be called, it's a real milestone," Johnston CSD Director of Communications Laura Sprague said. "It's the tangible, physical thing that a lot of kids need to feel."
While limiting contact was a priority, though, Sprague admits that eliminating contact altogether isn't very possible.
"I do think at events like this, it's hard for people to not hug each other," Sprague said. "We definitely saw that, but we also understand why that would be really hard not to do, considering everything that's gone on."
And while there was a virtual commencement tonight as well, the driving force behind the in-person ceremony was giving these kids a real sendoff.