Lake Tahoe high schools, LTCC set graduation plans (Gallery)

Lake Tahoe educators have been forced to get creative with their graduation ceremonies with the coronavirus crushing all traditional plans.

While the virus destroyed the last three months of the school year, there have been many positives that have come out of the crisis, including new ways to celebrate the seniors.

“The community and staff are celebrating our seniors in ways we never have before,” said Incline principal Andrew Yoxsimer, “with cap and gown delivery, banners in Raley’s center, and the Senior Car Parade.”

South Tahoe, Whittell, Incline and Lake Tahoe Community College all have much different plans, but all will be mask-wearing social-distancing extravaganzas.

Incline to host ceremony on football field

Incline graduations traditionally feature hundreds stuffed to maximum capacity inside the school’s gymnasium.

School staff, family, friends and graduates sit on folding chairs, in the bleachers and others who may arrive a little late stand against walls.

While that celebration won’t happen this year, Yoxsimer got approval Wednesday for an in-person graduation ceremony early next month on the football field.

Graduates will be allowed four guests to limit the total number of people to 250, with Yoxsimer estimating 50-56 seniors will attend.

The expected 250 guests will be wearing masks and socially distant on the field.

The ceremony starts at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, July 8

The other option was to hold a drive-through ceremony on Thursday, June 18, where grads, in their caps and gowns, parents and a few family members who would take photos as the seniors received their diplomas.

“Neither of these options is ideal, as some students can’t make July 8,” Yoxsimer said. “Incline has such a strong tradition of a community oriented graduation in the gym, with family, friends and alumni attending, that a small, socially-distanced graduation is a disappointment. However, it will still be a special day and is far better than no ceremony at all.”

Incline’s seniors were featured in a car parade Wednesday. The parade started at the high school and circled through the community before finishing back at the start. Cars were decorated, there was lots of cheering and everybody seemed to be having a good time.

Vikings seniors prepare to lift off

South Tahoe and Mt. Tallac high school seniors will literally be riding high during special Tahoe-style graduation ceremonies.

The graduates will ride a chairlift to the summit at Sierra-at-Tahoe, walk a short distance where they will receive their diplomas with scenic views of Pyramid Peak as the backdrop.

South Tahoe principal Carline Sinkler made the announcement Tuesday night at the Lake Tahoe Unified School District board meeting that the schools have partnered with Sierra-at-Tahoe to provide memorable commencement ceremonies for the Class of 2020.

“We have gone through astounding community collaboration, trying to make sure we have an extraordinary graduation despite all the challenges we have been faced with,” Sinkler told the board. “We think it will be a wonderful experience. We’re very excited.”

Sarah Hardin, who was recognized by board members for her work this year as the student representative, was thrilled when she heard of the plan that was taking shape. “I feel like this is a stepping stone,” Hardin said during the meeting. “A normal drive-through graduation doesn’t feel like anything special. When Sinkler talked about her plan at Sierra, that felt special and I think it’s a good idea.”

Sinkler took the board through the entire plan.

Parents, friends and however many people can fit in a car, will drive, in what might be a caravan, up Echo Summit, turn left at Sierra, drive up the road to the parking lot where staff will give directions.

The seniors will exit the vehicle, walk down through Solstice Plaza and get on the Grandview Express chair lift by themselves and ride to the top, while family and friends drive to the top.

“It’s a neat little process, everybody will be socially distant and it’s a great way to control crowds,” Sinkler said. “There’s quite a bit of symbolism, getting on the chairlift by yourself and getting off at the top. Went through the paperwork and permitting process to provide our graduates a true Tahoe graduation.”

Superintendent Jim Tarwater, President Larry Reilly and the rest of the district board members all praised the idea, saying it was a true Tahoe-style graduation.

The Tallac ceremony will begin at 3 p.m. Friday, June 19, with South Tahoe’s graduation happening at 5 p.m.

To view the ceremony subscribe to South Tahoe High School Viking Television STHS VTV – YouTube, or watch on Lake Tahoe TV. KRLT 93.9 and KOWL 1490 will be broadcasting audio versions of the commencements on June 19, Mt. Tallac from 2-3 p.m.; STHS from 4-6 p.m.

Warrior procession from Stateline to school

Whittell’s graduation will be a parade, drive-in movie mix.

Warrior seniors, parents and family members will meet at 9:30 a.m. Friday, June 19, at the Kahle Community Center parking lot at Stateline before parading with highly decorated cars from there to the school a few miles away in Zephyr Cove.

Whittell staff along with help from the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office will help with the parking process and movement of seniors during and after the ceremony.

The ceremony itself will feature congratulatory remarks from administration and presentation of the class to Superintendent Teri White and the Douglas County School Board.

The graduates will line up to receive their diplomas while family and friends watch from their cars. The Class of 2020 will be presented before taking a group photo in Warrior Stadium/Lisa Maloff Athletic Facility.

Whittell first-year principal Shawn Lear sent a letter to students and parents with graduation instructions and acknowledged the untraditional graduation.

“We look forward to a memorable/unique graduation ceremony,” he said. “This type of ceremony is a first for George Whittell High School and we know this isn’t the type of ceremony you had originally envisioned, but think of the stories you will be able to share with your children and grandchildren in the future.”

‘Coyote Caravan’ at LTCC

Lake Tahoe Community College will offer a standing ovation during a Coyote Caravan around campus to celebrate its graduates safely during a challenging school year.

LTCC invited all graduates and certificate earners to campus at 6 p.m. Friday, June 26, for a ceremony and caravan.

The grads are encouraged to dress up their vehicles and take part in a slow parade all around campus while faculty, staff, administrators and board members cheer them on from a safe distance.

Graduates can arrive in one vehicle with whomever they’d like to share the moment with. RSVP is required by showing valid photo identification on arrival. Professional photographers will be snapping photos at two different locations, one by the Coyote Legacy Plaza statue and another will be in front of the main building where diplomas will be handed out.

Check in is at 5:30 p.m. in the Forest Service Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit parking lot. Cars will then proceed down One College Drive to the traffic circle in front of the main building.

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