High school seniors ready for return of in-person commencement

Thousands of Minnesota high school students are getting ready to graduate, and after a pandemic-upended school year, commencement looks to be a welcome return to normal.

When they began their final year at Richfield High School, students had no idea how their senior year would go.

"I definitely was nervous because I wanted to have that last hurrah with my friends and to just have my family out there watching," said Helen, a senior.

So, students expressed relief that next Wednesday’s commencement out on the field of Spartan Stadium will be about as close to normal as you can get.

"Looking back at last year’s seniors, they didn’t get any family at their graduation. Also, they didn’t get prom, which was kind of a big deal to me," said Connor, a senior.

"It’s a really exciting opportunity just to bring it back to Richfield and have that feel here," added Assistant Principal Carrie Vala.

For years, Richfield has held commencement at the Minneapolis Convention Center. But last year, like most schools, the graduation was held virtually.

When schools began planning graduation months ago, it was a mixture of hope and guesses.

"Up until last week we were thinking about keeping families in pods and in the bleachers that you see and thinking about how we contact-trace and notify," Vala said.

With both outdoor and indoor limits lifted last Friday, there’s still one other variable: the weather.

"Even if it’s thundering and lightning outside, it’ll just add to the experience," Helen said.