Visalia students protest ‘drive-through’ graduation plans outside district office

Local News

VISALIA, California (KGPE) – A group of Visalia high school students and parents voiced their frustration over the district’s graduation plans Tuesday. They plan to host drive-through ceremonies at each high school.

“There’s a schedule by your last name and you go at a certain time and you drive through and you pull up and we just hop up and take our picture. They’re going to give us a box with our diploma and cords and stuff,” Camille Lim a Golden West senior said.

Protestors went to the district offices to speak out against the decision.

Lim said she was one of the dozens demonstrating because she thought school officials could have done better. Her mother Cathy Lim said she’s already seen her older siblings graduate, but was looking forward to her younger daughter’s own special moment. She said parents have expressed frustrations to district officials.

“We’re angry. Everybody’s angry and frustrated over COVID, but at the same time we’re frustrated because we’re not getting a say,” she said.

She said she’s disappointed she won’t even be allowed to get out of the car with her daughter. Superintendent Tamara Ravalin called the move to scrap the traditional ceremony ‘heartbreaking.’ She said it was decided by a committee of school staff formed in March.

“They did consult with parents and students and many of the staff members who were on the committee also have children in the district,” she said.

Ravalin said special virtual ceremonies will be streamed along with in-person ones held at the high schools. They will be live on each school’s website the evening of their commencement.

“We are making the best of a situation. We want to celebrate our graduates. They have done wonderful things. They deserve the celebration,” Ravalin said.

She said the district doesn’t have any plans on having a makeup graduation down the line because they can’t guarantee when it’ll be safe.

Lim said she’s missed out on a lot of senior year activities already, and was hoping for more out of graduation.

“With social media we’ve seen all these different things people have been able to do and all these different substitutes for graduation and it’s like ‘Oh I bet we could do that, like of why couldn’t we do that?’ and I was just kind of disappointed by the end result that we had,” she said.

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