Class of 2020 Graduation

Drive-In Style Graduation Ceremonies Celebrate Class of 2020
Posted on 06/03/2020
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Congratulations Class of 2020 photo collageLakota’s graduation weekend was marked by seven non-traditional, yet memorable celebrations of both East’s and West’s Class of 2020.

Over the course of two days and seven separate ceremonies, nearly 1,100 graduates celebrated the important milestone among their family and friends from the comfort of their vehicles (or parking spaces). A sea of cheers, and car horns, commended each name that was called as graduates were invited to process up to the median to the stage one row at a time. Attendees followed along via a live radio broadcast, transmitted by Maple Knoll Radio Network, which includes WLHS 89.9 FM and WMKV 89.3 FM. 

“Graduates, we know that this is not the ceremony you envisioned when you began this school year in August. None of us did,“ said Lakota Superintendent Matthew Miller. “But take a moment to look around you today.This is your support system - your family, friends, teachers and coaches. Please take a moment to thank them for all of the support and encouragement they have shown you throughout your journey.”

Each drive-in style ceremony, held on May 30 at Lakota East and May 31 at Lakota West, welcomed graduates and their guests by the carload. Cars were escorted by staff to their pre-assigned parking spots, each adequately spaced to respect social distancing guidelines set forth by the Butler County Department of Health. 

The ceremony was marked by most of the same traditions recent graduates have enjoyed at Cintas Center - but with their school as the backdrop instead. Lakota East graduate Jayse Card and Lakota West graduate Makayla Wilson opened their respective ceremonies with a touching performance of the National Anthem. Attendees directed their attention to the oversized U.S. flag suspended over the lot’s median by the fully extended fire truck ladders provided by both the West Chester and Liberty Township fire departments. 

At Lakota East, graduate Nicholas Parr presented the opening remarks before Principal Suzanna Davis presented the Salutatorian ring to Hailey Holtman and the Valedictorian ring to Tanya Kukreja, who took a turn at the microphone. Ashley Swisshelm led her classmates in the turning of their tassels before Serena Clark left her peers with these closing thoughts. 

“Together, we made it,” Clark exclaimed. “Through all of the challenges, and championships, we persevered and became stronger. You cannot quarantine the spirit of a Thunderhawk.”

At Lakota West, graduate Victoria Kelley shared a welcome message before Principal Elgin Card recognized Salutatorian Drew Kates and Valedictorian Jacob Ortwein, each sharing an address to their fellow graduates. Antonio Alejandro closed out the ceremony with these words before he was joined by several others to lead the turning of the tassel tradition. 

“You are incredible,” Alejandro said. “Enduring one of the biggest challenges faced in our nation’s history, something that has taken so much from us, you remain resilient. You listen here today in defiance of its control over your life. There may be situations that seem impossible, scary or outright absurd, but you’re so much stronger than anything that could be thrown at you.” 

Drone shot of parking lot from Lakota West drive-in graduationLakota West graduated 625 seniors, while Lakota East graduated 690, for a total of 1,315 graduates. Collectively, 320 members of the graduating class earned an Honors diploma. 

Visit Lakota’s Facebook page to view archived video from the livestream that documented each ceremony. A complete photo album for Lakota East and Lakota West can also be viewed on Lakota’s Facebook page. 

In addition to the “Parade of Graduates” videos that played during the days leading up to East’s and West’s original graduation dates, Lakota will pay one final tribute to the Class of 2020 with a live video presentation celebrating our seniors. Tune in on Lakota’s Facebook page or YouTube channel next Wednesday, June 10 at 7 p.m. for Lakota West’s video tribute and Thursday, June 11 at 7 p.m. for Lakota East’s. 

Congratulations and best wishes to all of Lakota’s newest alumni!