Luverne virtual commencement at 2 p.m. Sunday online

Parade planned at 4 p.m. Sunday, May 24

Nearly 90 Luverne High School seniors and their families took turns on the stage in the gym over the past week to record their individual graduation moments on camera.

Seniors donned their caps and gowns and crossed the stage as their parents announced their names into a microphone and handed over their diplomas.

After embracing and shaking their parents’ hands, the graduates stopped at center stage, looked into the camera lens and moved their tassels from left to right before exiting the stage.

Off stage and off camera, family members were allowed to gather on the sidelines to clap and cheer, as they would in a traditional ceremony.

The individual video clips — along with hat toss videos shared by students — will be part of Sunday’s virtual commencement ceremony that will be available starting at 2 p.m. on YouTube.

The link will be shared with families and will be accessible on the district’s website,

The ceremony will include speeches by seniors Alexa Chesley, Gunnar Oldre, Jordan Winter and Claire Baustian. (See the editorial on Page 4.)

After the video is released, district students and families will parade through town, escorted by Luverne fire and rescue vehicles. There will be one car per senior and one parent has to be along.

“Please know that many hours of thought, reading, collaborating with area principals, and more has gone into how to handle senior graduation,” High School Principal Ryan Johnson shared with senior families in an email.

“Words cannot begin to express the many emotions that all of us are experiencing during this very trying time. Although it is just one of 13 years in school, the senior year is a culmination of all things school. Many of those culminating moments and memories have been taken away.”

In that same message, however, Johnson pointed out opportunities the pandemic provided.

“I believe that strength, perseverance and grit may be the positives that define this class of students if they allow themselves the opportunity to be positive and forward-thinking,” he said.

The parade begins at 4 p.m. in the school parking lot and heads south on Donaldson Street and west on Main Street past the Mary Jane Brown Home before winding through Luverne’s neighborhoods and ending back at school. (See the accompanying map).


‘It didn’t seem possible …’

Virtual graduations are just one more way districts across the nation are experiencing learning and school traditions amid a coronavirus pandemic that requires social distancing.

The online communication with families has been at times reflective, as administrators send out emails.

“When we dismissed students on March 16 to prepare for distance learning, it didn’t seem possible that it would be the last time students would be in this building to learn for this academic year,” Luverne Superintendent Craig Oftedahl wrote Monday.

“While distance learning isn’t our preferred method of educating our students, we are so proud of our students, their parents and our staff for stepping up to provide the best educational experience possible under these circumstances.”

Most students left in March with textbooks, classroom and library books, school-owned band instruments and other items provided by the district.

These items are now being returned under strict observation of social distancing — outside the building, taking turns with space — and families are being reimbursed for activities fees for spring seasons that didn’t happen.

 “More than ever, we thank parents and families for their patience and understanding to finish the school year,” the email message stated.

See the Star Herald graduation section in this paper for information about graduating seniors in all four school districts in the Star Herald coverage area, in addition to commencement details at those schools.

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