GHS confers diplomas to its 2020 graduates

GHS confers diplomas to its 2020 graduates

Posted May 20, 2020

By: DANIEL WINNINGHAM

Enquirer~Democrat managing editor

There were no handshakes, whistles or loud air horns and no one was seated in the bleachers, but graduates got what they were seeking when they began their high school journey four years earlier.

Graduation ceremonies and any other public event or gathering have been off limits for several weeks. In the meantime, local school districts have been working on holding graduation events that are conducted in a socially distanced setting.

Sunday morning, nearly 80 seniors at Gillespie High School were given their diplomas. One at a time, the seniors in their caps and gowns were ushered into the GHS Gymnasium by health department employees, then told to wait by the stage. With the traditional Pomp and Circumstance playing in the background, their name was called and they picked up their diploma from a table and were then directed to stand in front of the stage for photos. From there, the graduates were invited to take a family photo in the other side of the gym, then made their way to the building’s west side, to enter their waiting vehicle.

For many graduates, they know the past couple months have been trying, but they are ready to move on.

“To me, it means I’m going to be moving on and I have to start planning as an adult with what I want to do with my life,” said Anthony Kravanya said. “Under these circumstances, it’s kind of an upsetting time because who knows what can happen with this coronavirus. It’s too bad we couldn’t celebrate it with our friends and family together.”

Bristol D’Antonio answered a few questions while her parents and siblings waited in their departure vehicle.

“Difficult, very (difficult),” she said of the education process the past several weeks. “To keep my grades to maintain learning.” She plans to study nursing at the University of Dubuque in Iowa.

“I’m glad that we’re doing something instead of nothing,” said Joseph Bertetto. “It’s rough but at the same time I understand the situation.”

In addition to graduation, Bertetto said he had been looking forward to band and choir concerts this spring. Baritone, sousaphone

“I wish we would have had English classes instead of classes on line and the same thing with my history classes,” he said. “I wish they actually in school instead of over Zoom chat.”

Bertetto plans to attend the University of Marion later his year, and then eventually enter seminary. He attended Sunday’s event with his parents, Bill and Michelle, as well as older brother Bill and younger brother Michael.

“I think graduating under social distancing really makes us appreciate all the things we had before this thing began,” said Chance Reinisch said. “It’s not so much the graduation ceremony but it’s not being with my classmates and being able to give my valedictorian speech to my classmates and being able to spend these last days before we all go away together. I think that  made us all really appreciate each other more.”

returning to school, after closure announced in March

“I had no idea,” he said. “I thought it could go either way, so I wasn’t really sure.”

Reinisch is enrolled at Augsburg University in Minneapolis, Minn. where he plans to study music business and production.

“I think for a lot of kids the extracurricular activities that we did gave us a lot of purpose, and was  another thing to occupy our time,” he said. “Everything has been taken away from us, not just school. It made us all re-evaluate what we were taking for granted in our lives.”

Reinisch was one of six co-valedictorians in this year’s class. The others were Megan Hatlee, Katie Reed, Mallory Mick, MacKenzy Mix and Ruby Savant.

The commencement circumstances were “less than ideal,” said Bryce Higgenbotham, who plans to study biology and play baseball at Quincy University later this year.

Higgenbotham described the feeling of having his senior year cut short.

“It’s kind of hurt,” he said. “This is supposed to be all of the last things we do in high school, so not getting those things hasn’t been fun, but there’s nothing else we can do about it. It was difficult at first just because it’s not fun learning new material and doing things outside of the classroom, but as it went on, it got better.”