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San Diego high schools planning graduation ceremonies at Santee Drive-in

Plans include additional graduation festivities on campus.

SANTEE, Calif. — High school graduation is looking a lot different this year for the class of 2020.

Some San Diego students are getting ready to put on their caps and gowns and head to the Santee Drive-in.

Santana High School is one of six schools in the Grossmont Union High School District that’s holding graduation ceremonies this year at the Santee Drive-in.

Principal Tim Schwuchow said the entire ceremony will be prerecorded on video and played on the screen.

“It's going to have the principal welcome message. It’s going to have the valedictorian speech. Our band is going to play a song. Every kid’s name and picture is going to be read,” Schwuchow said.

“They're at least all going to be together watching the graduation ceremony on the big screen,” the principal said.

Santana High also plans to have a drive-by parade on campus so students can say goodbye to their teachers, and a private diploma ceremony where students line up with household family members and walk across a stage.

“We're coming together so we can celebrate it together. And it's something that ideally, we'd all be on the field. But we can't do that this year, so this is the next best thing,” Schwuchow said.

Still, some students in the class of 2020 are pushing back.

“The problem with the Santee Drive-in is we're limited to one car,” said Jules Fossing, a senior at West Hills High School in Santee.

Fossing started a Facebook group that supports an online petition calling for in-person, cap-and-gown ceremonies later in the year.

“We think we deserve something more. And we're willing to work for more.  We're willing to wait. And we're willing to help in whatever way that we can,” said Fossing.

Other local high schools have decided to wait and see if they can hold in-person graduations in July or August. But that approach could be risky.

“To push it off into July, August, or September, you're rolling the dice that you might not be able to do anything at that time,” Schwuchow said. “And I think this is a good way to celebrate, while still keeping the kids safe.”

For students with families who do not own vehicles, the Santee Drive-in is going to set up chairs – with social distancing – so those families can enjoy the ceremony, as well.

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