Despite compromised circumstances, there was plenty of pomp Tuesday, May 19 outside Zimmerman Elementary, Wahpeton.
Beginning at 5 p.m., the school held a drive thru graduation for the kindergarten class of 2020. Ninety-three youth are graduating from Zimmerman this month and approximately 70 students and families took part in Tuesday’s event.
“We were all excited to model that although we have to physically distance, we can remain socially close,” Zimmerman Principal Rosemary Hardie said. “We were able to find an innovative way to celebrate and maintain ways for contact with students and families.”
Many students and families pulled up to Zimmerman in specially decorated vehicles. All families were encouraged to take the time for celebrating kindergarten graduates.
“It was a fabulous way of Zimmerman thinking outside the box to make something happen that had meaning for the kids and their families,” said Wahpeton Public Schools Superintendent Rick Jacobson, who participated in graduation.
Zimmerman was affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and nationwide school closures, Hardie said. Graduation music included songs from a school musical which was unable to be performed this spring. The event doubled as a farewell for longtime music teacher Dean Aamodt, retiring after a 42-year career, including 11 with Wahpeton Public Schools.
“Sixteen of our staff members attended and the first to arrive was Mr. Aamodt at 9 a.m.,” Hardie said. “He got things started with the decorating process. We got the decorations and Zimmerman ready to go. It was Mr. Aamodt’s last event, so it was fitting that he would put his best effort up.”
Zimmerman’s graduation ceremony is the first of four total scheduled for Wahpeton Public Schools.
Wahpeton Middle School will hold a virtual eighth grade graduation at 1 p.m. Thursday, May 21.
Wahpeton Elementary School will hold a reverse teacher parade from 5-6 p.m. Thursday. The event will allow families to drive through the school’s bus loop to wave and say goodbye to elementary teachers. Wahpeton Elementary is located at 1235 12th St. N., Wahpeton.
Reverse parade participants are asked to respect social distancing guidelines. They should stay in their vehicle and not give hugs or high fives, an event poster stated.
Wahpeton High School is scheduled to hold an outdoor, socially distanced graduation at the Chahinkapa Park football field, Wahpeton. Graduation is scheduled for 1 p.m. Saturday, May 23, with alternate times of 1 p.m. Sunday, May 24 and 1 p.m. Monday, May 25 in case of bad weather.
All attendees will be required to wear a mask at all times, Daily News previously reported. Graduates, administration and school board members will only wear masks if they choose to.
“The ceremony will be livestreamed and recorded for family members not able to attend,” Wahpeton High School Principal Ned Clooten said previously.
While Tuesday’s event was Zimmerman’s first drive thru graduation, Hardie said it was handled with care.
“We didn’t have a script. But you can’t feign enthusiasm and the love for our children,” she said.
Look to Daily News, in print and online, for coverage of Twin Towns Area graduations.