The graduation seesaw


photo by Maggie Taylor

Senior Annie Simone scrapes the leftover insect species from the bottle of the alcohol solution during an AP Environmental Science lab on biodiversity.

The coveted senior year graduation: complete with the stress of shaking principal Robert Frasca’s hand and being devoured by a crowd of supporting family members at the UCF stadium. Originally scheduled for May 27 with two options, graduation was recently rescheduled for May 14 at The Bounce House, UCF’s football stadium. Unfortunately for AP Biology and AP Environmental Science (APES) students, May 14 is the date of their extremely stressful, three-hour long AP Exam. 

UCF provides an option for students to have a somewhat normal graduation, and steps ahead of what happened last year. UCF made the call on the actual date and The College Board set exam dates more than a year in advance. Although the choice for the final graduation date was not made by administration, staff and students are still feeling its negative effects.

“I’m not happy but I understand that it wasn’t a decision our administration made and we just have to adapt,” APES teacher Yvette Pigott said, “I’ve had to change my lessons plans due to the earlier exam date but my classes have covered all the material and we will spend the fourth quarter reviewing.”

Administration is doing everything they can to accommodate these students. For AP Biology. kids can either skip the test, choose another paper and pencil administration date in late May or bail on  graduation entirely. For APES students, Frasca said that kids wishing to actually take the test that afternoon will be moved up to receive their diplomas in graduation. For example, if someone’s name ended with a Y, they would be moved up to A, so they could leave early. 

“Thankfully, there are alternative AP Exam dates for seniors who want to attend graduation and still have the chance to take their AP Exam,” AP Coordinator Michelle Cortes said. “I am glad that the class of 2021 will be able to walk with their class.” 

Cortes will visit these  classrooms after spring break to further discuss the options available to seniors in each class. A majority of students are choosing to take the makeup exam after graduation, including APES student senior Jayleen Moya. She believes attending graduation is an important milestone in her high school career.

“It is what I’ve been working towards for so long,” Moya said. “I  think it deserves to happen and be celebrated and I wanted some sort of normal this year.” 

Administration has been working closely with UCF to ensure that every precaution is put in place to ensure a fun yet safe graduation. Masks will be required and people attending are urged to socially distance from other families.

“I want to keep my family as safe as possible when it comes to bringing them into a large crowd. With the amount of guests I hope to bring, some of them may have to stay back and watch virtually,” senior Amira Ali said.

On the other hand, Moya is concerned over graduating in such tight quarters with hundreds of people in a cramped stadium.

“I am kind of nervous about being in a crowded stadium while COVID is still prevalent, especially because I know a lot of students at our school don’t take it seriously or don’t take enough precautions,” Moya said.

Although there have been numerous bumps in the road for seniors, a regular graduation at the highly-regarded UCF stadium will still happen.

“I have been looking forward to this moment since I have been able to attend my older cousin’s graduations. My family and I have a tradition of having a family reunion when someone graduates,” Ali said.