Monrovia High School Graduates Class of 2020

This proud athletic graduate donned numerous bibs from various meets over cap and gown. – Photo by Terry Miller / Beacon Media News

Honors graduate of MAD Class of 1938

On Wednesday, Monrovia High School followed through on its plan to have a drive-up graduation where 300 students picked up their diploma, had a photo taken, and then dashed back to their cars to let the next graduate in line receive their diploma, and so on.

It all went off smoothly starting at 10 a.m. Wednesday despite some initial obstacles with the social distancing mandates from state and county health departments.

The graduation ceremony almost didn’t happen, after Los Angeles County education leaders nixed drive-thru events. Creative thinking and numerous phone calls to officials finally swayed county officials to allow their graduation to go on as planned.

District Superintendent Katherine Thorossian, Principal Kirk McGinnis and Board President Rob Hammond along with the staff and faculty of Monrovia High School greeted over 300 graduates as their parents drove up to the podium and drove them home after they received a diploma and posed for a quick graduation photo.

“I’m incredibly proud of our extraordinary graduates, who finally got their moment of celebration after losing so many aspects of their senior year to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Board of Education President Rob Hammond said. “I know they will go on to contribute to our society in wonderful, meaningful ways, drawing on the lessons learned over their years at Monrovia Unified.”

The initial plan was for the ceremonies to start at 3 p.m.; however, due to concerns over another early curfew probability, the district moved the procession to the morning to give ample time to complete the task.

The very first graduate of the day was Vivian Fisher, who received an honorary diploma as she was unable to receive her diploma from the class of 1938. Fisher, 99, longtime Monrovia resident and former Monrovia Unified School District employee, was escorted on stage by her great great nephew and Monrovia High Class of 2020 graduate, Elijah Vance.

“Graduation ceremonies symbolize the culmination of educational pursuits as a child and the commencement of life as an adult.  They are a celebration of achievement. This year, we also celebrate our graduates for their perseverance through these challenging times,” Superintendent Thorossian said. “They are the bright spot in a time of crisis.”

Though the graduation ceremony was vastly different than years past, valedictorian Kate Tadeo and salutatorian Jessica Lee were still given the opportunity to address their fellow graduates through a video message.

“I ask you, Monrovia Class of 2020, to not look at this experience as something of sadness, but as an opportunity to fight for those who don’t get to walk across their stage because of gun violence, who do not get to watch their virtual graduation from their Apple MacBooks, and for those who are unable to lead their lives without fear of being persecuted for their beliefs and identity,” Tadeo said. “We have to be better. Fight for better. Be the generation of change as I know we can be.”

Lee, who shared advice and words of wisdom she learned from her brother, emphasized the importance of setting goals and practicing compassion.

“Always remember to practice gratitude, because not every day is guaranteed. Although I am proud of the achievements I have accomplished, looking back, I regret not spending more time with people,” Lee said. “In a time like this, more than ever, I’ve realized how easy it is to forget the privilege of being around friends and family,” she said.

“Graduates, you have proven that your commitment to graduate was made with a conviction to finish strong. I challenge you to set a new vision for success,” McGinnis said. “I trust that you will take the skills, lessons, and qualities you learned here at Monrovia High School and apply them to each step in your life. Monrovia High is truly the home of scholars and champions and is a better place because of your contributions over the past four years. Congratulations.”

Vivienne Fisher, 99, receives her high school diploma, albeit a bit late, from School Board President Rob Hammond Wednesday morning. – Photo by Terry Miller / Beacon Media News

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