With traditional graduation ceremonies not taking place for the Class of 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Fontana Unified School District has swapped out on-campus venues for something a little more grand and spacious: a commercial airport and an auto racing track.
The district announced on Thursday that high school senior send-offs will be taking place at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana and the Ontario International Airport instead.
The drive-up ceremonies will allow students to celebrate the momentous occasion with family and fellow graduates while still observing social distancing guidelines meant to stem the spread of COVID-19, according to a news release posted on the school district’s website.
“We have a remarkable group of seniors, and we are committed to commemorating their accomplishments in a safe and exceptional manner,” Fontana Unified Superintendent Randal S. Bassett said in the release. “We are incredibly thankful to the Auto Club Speedway and Ontario International Airport for helping provide one-of-a-kind, memorable graduation venues for our Class of 2020.”
The first commencement will be held at the airport on May 28 for Fontana Adult School, Eric Birch High School and Citrus High School.
After that, the venue will move to the speedway, where the graduation will be held inside the track’s pit road over three consecutive days.
Ceremonies will begin June 2 with Summit and A.B. Miller high schools, followed by Kaiser and Fontana high schools on June 3, and finally Jurupa Hills High School on June 4.
Officials emphasized the days were chosen to coincide as close as possible to the original graduation dates for each school.
Each ceremony will feature the traditional valedictorian and salutatorian speeches, and students will have the chance to move the tassels on their mortarboards.
For the event, graduates will be allowed one car and can bring along their relatives to participate, according to officials. Students clad in commemorative face masks will be allowed out of the vehicle to receive their diploma and take a picture.
All of the graduations will be streamed live on YouTube so that friends and family can watch regardless of their location.
The district will provide further information to the families of graduating students, including times and guidelines, the release stated.