YORK -- Spectators descended onto Levitt Stadium June 27, arranged in a grid painted on the field – eight family members per graduate, per square – to finally give the York High School Class of 2020 a proper (but unique) sendoff.
Counting teachers, school board members, graduates and guests, YHS Principal Jason Heitz estimated 1,000 people attended the long-anticipated event. Traditionally, graduation is conducted in the York City Auditorium, filled to its 2,000-person brim.
Following the onset of the coronavirus, at times it seemed like there would be no commencement at all. The students, school and community made it happen.
“One month ago I was telling people I thought graduation would be in July,” Heitz mused. “A lot has changed in a month.”
It took collaboration and planning to pull off the one-of-a-kind, once-in-a-lifetime event. Heitz said his main concern was social distancing while maintaining a sense of order and panache. “We did everything we could to follow social distancing,” Heitz said. “That’s what really drove the seating arrangement and everything.”
Creating a formal atmosphere from a new, unknown circumstances was on Heitz’s mind, he said.
“I wanted it to look pretty smooth going up and down the bleachers,” he said. “Once we went through that and rehearsed it, the rest were just small details.”
Each graduate filed in through the Levitt Stadium tunnel, keeping six feet apart and guided by mask-wearing faculty and staff. “Pomp and Circumstance” played through the loudspeaker, as the soon-to-be YHS alum took their designated spot in the bleachers.
There was no band. No choir. No congratulatory handshakes. Packets containing diplomas were arranged on long tables in front of the stands. As each graduate was announced, they descended the bleachers to pick up their diploma, pausing so family members on the field far below could get a photo of their own member of the Class of COVID.
In an orderly fashion, newly-minted YHS alum climbed back down the bleachers, exiting one by one from where they entered.
Even COVID-19 couldn’t stop the graduates from one long-standing tradition:
Gathering as a group – perhaps for the last time – the YHS Class of 2020 jubilantly tossed their caps into the air -- this time, not in the York City Auditorium, but on the humble pavement behind Levitt Stadium.
York High School Class of 2020 consists of: Nick Ackerman, Karen Acosta, Riley Marie Allison, Jaime Barajas, KateLynn Battreall, Zach Thomas Beaver, Emily Jeanne Biel, Zane Bowerman, Noah Jackson Burke, Thomas Carr, Jr., Dylan Chapman, Andrew John Clark, Zoe Michelle Collingham, Morgan Keith Conner, Elliot Dallmann, Jacob Maximus Diaz, Natalia Jade Dick, Martin Dirmyer;
Laura Kate Eckhart, Major Ethan Eiland, Darin Ellis, Tre Ellis, Dean Erdkamp, Tom Erwin, John Esser, Bladen Flynt, Hunter Allen Folts, Jason Franklin, Ross Jonathan Fraser, Alycia Carmen Gage, Katheryn Galvan, Alyssa Marie Gilliland, Anthonie Joel Gomez, Natalie Marie Hammer, Michael Heinrich, Sergio Hernández, Jayden Lee Hight, Colton Hinz, Creighton Ernest Hirschfeld, Lillian Claire Holthus, Kaleigh Danielle Homan, Aaliyah Marie Horn, Maria Nataly Humanes, Callasandra Hurley;
Kenia Ininguez, Zyann Junge, Jacob Korn, Alexis Linder, Zayden Loreman, Raul Gonzalez, Aislinn Luther, Reed Daniel Malleck, Cassandra Lynn Mangelo, Kaitlyn Martin, Logan McCartney, Bailey Mefford, Landon William Meier, Abigail Miller, Matt Mittman, Taylor Nie-decker Buller, Lauren Elizabeth Newman, Riley Nigh, Tyson Nitzel, Madilyn Belle Nunnenkamp, Leah Michele Oldenburg, Kaleb Ortiz, Shiv Y. Patel, Malik Patterson, Kaitlynn Pavel, Matthew Pedersen, Lauren Nicole Peters, Desiree Rose Pinneo;
Tatum Olivia Rasmussen, Ashton Reneè Rauert, Colton Walker Rhodes, Logan Rice, Bailey Robinson, Travis Robinson, Brayan Rodriguez, Hayden James Royal, Hunter Lawrence Royal, Makayla Saatmann, Hailey Samson, Andrea Kaylee Saxer, Gabriel R. Saxer, Makayla Schade, Ty James Schneider, Cara Rose Dawn Schrader, Abbey Seevers, Lily Faith Shafer, Ethan Smith, Kristina Jean Thomas Smith, Xzavior Rod Michael Starr, Dalton Stodieck, Alex Straub, Lindsey Grace Stuckey;
Anne Erica Thomas, Aaron Thorne, Cameron Kenneth James Turner, Zachary Vavra, Alejandro Velasquez-Lopez, Jordan Vice, Madelyn Rose Vodvarka, Samuel Warneke, Samuel Robert Wilson, Beau Woods, Tyler Wright, Kyle Yates, Emma JoLynn Ziemba.