A drive-thru… graduation?! Central Oregon Community College’s 2021 commencement model

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Image by Miina McCown

Miina McCown/The Broadside 

Drive-thru takeout, drive-thru COVID-19 testing, what could be next? Many things have had to change as a result of the ongoing pandemic, and among all of those changes is none other than graduation ceremonies for high schools, colleges and universities. Among others, Central Oregon Community College will be taking up a drive-thru model for the 2021 graduation due to COVID-19 restrictions.

So, what will the event actually look like? The ceremony will take place on Saturday, June 12, and will consist of a drive-thru event where students will be able to exit their vehicle, walk across the stage, have their name and degree/certificate read and receive their diploma cover, similar to a typical commencement ceremony. Students will also be allowed to invite friends and family, as long as they are following the rule of one vehicle per graduate.

https://www.midoregon.com/accounts/student.shtml

Tyler Hayes, the Admissions and Registrar Director stated that students will follow the route marked and once passing through the student check-in area, will be able to drive through and pull up at the stage. Graduates will then get out of their car, walk across the stage, and the others driving their vehicle will be instructed to pull up so that they can take photos of the graduate crossing the stage.

“We very much want to make this commencement look and feel like a traditional ceremony,” said Hayes. “Obviously, there won’t be a big crowd, but the student will exit the stage and there will be a professional photographer there to take their photo, which will be available for students to purchase if they choose and then they will get back in their vehicle and exit through the Wickiup Hall area where faculty will be there cheering them on.”

There will also be a virtual portion of the ceremony including a live stream on Saturday, June 12 on the COCC Facebook page. A recording will be added to the COCC website after the event as well.

For students, the deadline to RSVP is May 21, and students can visit this page to follow the four easy steps it takes to do so, including seeing more information on the ceremony.

After students RSVP, during the week of May 24-28, the administration will provide more details about the event and their specific arrival time through email. Arrival times will be organized by certificate and degrees, so it is not guaranteed that graduates will be able to see their friends.

In addition, Hayes stated that COCC did not employ a drive-thru model for last year’s ceremony. 

“It’s definitely new for this year. Last year, we did more of a virtual celebration, but this year with the vaccine starting to become more available to people and guidance becoming more available for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Oregon Health Authority, we felt like we could move forward with providing some sort of in-person commencement celebration for students and that the drive-thru method would be the best way we could do that to keep our staff, students and community safe,” Hayes remarked.

Many other community colleges, including Oregon State University Cascades, Clackamas Community College, Linfield University and George Fox University are planning to hold a drive-thru model as well as a virtual segment similar to COCC. In addition, many high schools all across Oregon’s smaller school districts, Crook, Culver, Sisters and Jefferson will all take up a similar process.

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