Families celebrate as Columbus City School seniors graduate in person

Local News

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — As the school year comes to a close, seniors across the state are turning their tassels after a year of obstacles with the COVID-19 pandemic.

At the Greater Columbus Convention Center, several in-person graduations took place Wednesday evening. Six to be exact.

Last year, there were zero that were in person.

South High School seniors turned their tassels after a year like no other.

“I really wanted, I really wanted to be there,” said Sylvia Safford.

She counts herself lucky to watch her grandson, Marquis Hawthorne, receive his diploma.

Marquis’ mother, Monica Hawthorne, was worried a ceremony wouldn’t be possible.

“Grateful to have an in-person graduation,” Monica Hawthorne said. “At first, we were grateful just to get the two tickets and then they upped it up to four tickets and when I saw that, I immediately started crying.”

The district hosted several ceremonies at the convention center Wednesday night.

2020 Columbus City Schools graduate Kalani Cunningham was in the crowd to watch her sister.

“For me, it means a lot because I graduated last year and I didn’t get to have my graduation [walk], so my sister can have my graduation for me,” she said.

And for the seniors, now alumni, this was their first time together as a class all year; the district had all schools in blended learning with two different cohorts.

“Just to be with everybody, you know, I was in high school with all four years for the last time to celebrate,” Marquis Hawthorne said. “It’s not just a little accomplishment, so it’s something we can all be proud of and celebrate together.”

Safford thanked the teachers who kept students on track and everyone who made this moment possible.

“Being able to see him graduate and to graduate with honors, you know, he just did so well and I’m very proud of him,” she said.

Columbus City Schools has several other ceremonies scheduled between now and June 5. Masks and tickets are required.

All of those events will also be streamed on Facebook and on YouTube.

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