The 102nd Annual Badger High School Commencement Ceremony was not in the usual gym setting and didn’t have the customary congratulatory receiving line outside the school’s front entrance afterwards due to the COVID-19 pandemic state guidelines forcing schools across the state to make an adjustment.
To honor its graduates while still abiding by state guidelines, Badger held its ceremony outside on a clear, sunny, mid-70 degree day at the Rocket Field parking lot in Badger on May 17. Graduates and their families were not sitting in chairs, but instead their vehicles in a semi-circle, drive-in style format. The event, besides pre-recorded student speeches, was broadcast live on KQ92 radio.
When the graduates names were announced, they and their parents left their vehicles. The graduates grabbed their diplomas out of desks situated in front of their vehicles— desks designated by specialized yard signs with their name and photo on them. They also grabbed flowers to give to their parents, ones left atop the desks just seconds earlier by those wearing masks, including Badger administrators Stacey Warne and Kevin Ricke, Badger School Board Chairperson Jamie Isane, and Badger School Board Clerk Cari Dostal.
The graduates then hugged their parents, one of their parents turned their cap tassels, and they posed for a photo together.
Ricke discussed these COVID-19-related Badger High School Graduation Ceremony guidelines— ones highlighted in last week’s issue of The Tribune— at the Badger School Board’s May 11 meeting. At this meeting, Badger School Chairperson Isane had some questions after Ricke finished.
“Is this pretty similar to neighboring districts the way they’re handling their graduation,” Isane asked, “I’m just wondering because, I mean, are these guidelines… that have to be followed… What happens if you don’t exactly follow the guidelines is I guess my question.”
Ricke first pointed out how the Roseau County Sheriff Steve Gust would likely be at this event, given the fact that his son, Colten Gust, is one of the graduates.
“I think it’s best faith effort to operate within the boundaries,” Ricke said.
According to state guidelines, the district couldn’t hold this event on a football field or in a gym, but were allowed to host a safe celebration outside of the home through car parades and parking lot ceremonies. The Badger School District went with both of these allowed options, doing a car parade following the ceremony.
Ricke mentioned how many schools with a large number of students held their graduation ceremonies virtually. The Badger School District had 12 graduates this year, including: Garytt Banta, Tessa Blumer, Colten Gust, Emma Gust, Kiana Jacobson, Isaac Lorenson, Esther Nelson, Cierra Olds, Morgan Praska, Deanna Rybakowski, Kennedy Truscinski, and Emma VonEnde. Mutita Lydia Arsaipanit received a Certificate of Attendance as a foreign exchange student.
“Those (larger) schools have to do it (virtually) just out of sheer numbers,” Ricke said, “because they have high, high number of diplomas that they have to distribute in a reasonable amount of time.”
Ricke also mentioned how open top vehicles, such as convertibles, were discouraged and that families had to self-quarantine inside closed vehicles.
Warne highlighted the importance of following these guidelines.
“I think it’s important for us to realize too that part of our job as educators is to model and teach kids how to follow guidelines and the rules that are set forth,” Warne said. “So instead of us looking to see how we could circumvent the rules there, I think we need to lead by example and work within those guidelines because that’s what we expect our kids to do.”
Isane later responded, “The reason I asked (is) I had that question asked to me. I just wanted to hear you explain it.”
To see some of the other topics the Badger School Board discussed at its May 11 meeting, read the May 20 issue of The Tribune in print or online.