Eastpointe class of 2020 graduate Colin Welch poses with teacher Patti DeRosa at last year’s outdoor graduation ceremony at Eastpointe High School. This year’s ceremony will take place at Jimmy John’s Field in Utica.

Eastpointe class of 2020 graduate Colin Welch poses with teacher Patti DeRosa at last year’s outdoor graduation ceremony at Eastpointe High School. This year’s ceremony will take place at Jimmy John’s Field in Utica.

Photo provided by Caitlyn Kienitz


Eastpointe, Roseville high schools prepare for graduation, prom amid COVID-19

By: Brendan Losinski | Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published May 9, 2021

 Roseville High School graduates will have a “drive-by graduation” in which they will stop by individually outside Roseville High School, get their diplomas, get photos taken with administrators and have family watching while being socially distanced.

Roseville High School graduates will have a “drive-by graduation” in which they will stop by individually outside Roseville High School, get their diplomas, get photos taken with administrators and have family watching while being socially distanced.

Photo provided by Caitlyn Kienitz

 Students at both Eastpointe High School and Roseville High School, similar to Roseville 2020 graduate Michonni Ward, pictured, will have some unconventional graduation ceremonies and proms this year due to safety measures regarding COVID-19.

Students at both Eastpointe High School and Roseville High School, similar to Roseville 2020 graduate Michonni Ward, pictured, will have some unconventional graduation ceremonies and proms this year due to safety measures regarding COVID-19.

Photo provided by Joe Genest

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EASTPOINTE/ROSEVILLE — With the high school careers of many seniors soon coming to a close, school districts are figuring out how they can create a memorable way to send them out into the world while still being COVID-safe.

“Graduation will be Tuesday, June 8, at Jimmy John’s Field in Utica. It’s a great venue because it’s outdoors and gives us a way to honor the seniors with some of their family members who can come with them,” explained Stephanie VanHaerents, the Eastpointe High School activities director and senior class adviser. “We’re very lucky to have these activities for the students this year. Last year, the Class of 2020 didn’t really get anything. They had a very small ceremony and didn’t get a prom. That’s just the world we live in right now.”

Eastpointe is also having a prom for its seniors. It will take place outdoors.

“For prom, we are able to put together something that is at Kennedy Park on Saturday, May 22, in Eastpointe,” VanHaerents said. “We’re excited to give that opportunity to the seniors. They had to sacrifice a lot this year and didn’t have a homecoming or Spirit Week this year. We have a DJ and dancing. We won’t have a traditional sit-down meal, but we will have a food truck they can take with them.”

Safety was a huge concern when planning both events.

“At prom, we are only allowing the seniors to go,” said VanHaerents. “There are no outside guests allowed. They have to wear masks except when taking pictures. We will try to keep them socially distanced. At graduation, they have to wear masks also and will be separated by 6 feet on the field. Each student gets three tickets each, and the pods of three are distanced from one another.”

Roseville High School will host a graduation ceremony in a similar fashion to what it did for last year’s graduating class.

“Graduation will be similar to last year. It will be Saturday, May 22,” said Roseville High School Principal Patrick Adams. “We have rented a huge stage and will have that on the south end of the high school campus, and on Monday, May 10, we are sending out a sign-up to all seniors, where they can pick a time they can come with friends and relatives. They will shake hands with the superintendent and other dignitaries when it is their turn, get their diploma and take photos. Then everyone will get back in their cars. It will go from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. It will take between two and three minutes per student. Last year was neat, and it afforded us to find ways to stay safe and still take photos and have a graduation.”

Prom will take place in Roseville, as well, but with some additional precautions.

“We’re going to have prom on May 20, Thursday, at the Vintage House in Fraser. We’re having dinner for our students inside according to the safety orders, with six to a table and people 6-feet apart,” said Adams. “You can’t mingle table to table. At the conclusion of dinner, we will then dismiss them table by table and they will have a disk jockey outside playing music and places for them to take photos, and that will last until 11 p.m. That will be prom.”

Adams acknowledged that some students may feel bitter about not getting traditional graduation events, but he hopes they will be able to celebrate in their own unique ways, despite that.

“My message to students is that it’s tempting to spend time wondering what might have been if it wasn’t the year the pandemic hit, but I urge them to not ask that,” he said. “I instead think they should be focusing on that maybe this happened for reasons that made them stronger and more compassionate. Instead of asking, ‘Why me?’ I hope they see how this challenge has elevated them.”

He also said that after such a difficult year, the district had to give the students some way to celebrate and commemorate their time in the district.

“We have to give the kids something,” Adams said. “They’ve been through hell and back, and we want to make sure we do this the right way, but they deserve to be able to commemorate finishing their time in high school in some way.”

Eastpointe High School Senior Class President Brandi Clark said she was happy that her district was able to put something together for her and her classmates.

“It’s been a big change, but I feel like it’s better than nothing. The class of 2020 didn’t really get much of anything, so I’m glad we have something,” she remarked. “I spoke to some of my classmates. Some of them are excited and some aren’t. I think we just need to adapt to this situation since most schools aren’t doing anything.”

She went on to say that she thinks the adversity faced by students this year has only made them stronger, and she thinks the way they are ending the school year is going to reflect that.

“I say, just keep going,” Clark said. “We went to school during the pandemic, so I don’t think anything can stop us. We can get through this.”

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