A COVID guideline graduation could potentially bring back old school traditions

Sammie+Hoefs+gets+excited+thinking+about+graduating+on+the+same+field+her+dad+did+years+ago.+

courtesy of Lindsey Blum

Sammie Hoefs gets excited thinking about graduating on the same field her dad did years ago.

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With mere days before graduation, all eyes are on seniors.

Many of us feared the loss of an in-person graduation after the Class of 2020 had to make appointments one by one to have photos taken in the auditorium. Their final moment was riding in a parade through New Market to celebrate.

The Board of Education announced all Frederick County schools will be have outdoor graduations at each school’s stadium. Usually seniors have their graduation at Mount St. Marys University in Knott Arena.

In the 1990’s graduation was moved to Knott Arena because it is a bigger facility with parking and air conditioning. The Mount also allowed parents to hold Safe and Sane, an all night event for all the students to celebrate together.

Moving graduation back on the field, of course, brings many challenges. “The difficulties with the change of venue is that the planning process, procedures, and physical space is so different,” said senior class co-advisor Allison Partner. “Of course weather is unpredictable, and parking is very limited, which always raises concerns.”

While the event is outdoors, seating is still limited to four tickets per student. 

Like me, many seniors are excited to graduate on the turf. I think it adds a lot of sentimental value to a graduation to be able to celebrate at my school. It also adds more meaning, since many of my aunts and uncles graduated from my high school on the football field as well.

I am willing to trade in all the glamour at the Mount for a graduation on our home football field.

Although I am sad our senior year was not normal, I get excited thinking about how I can say I graduated in the Linganore stadium just like my dad, Kevin Hoefs, did in 1981. 

Kevin Hoefs graduates from Linganore in 1981. (courtesy of Debbie Goundry)

“When my daughter graduates on June 2, we will now have three Linganore alums in the house,” Hoefs said. “But this one is gonna be extra special because we can both say we graduated on the field, mine was just at the old Linganore.” 

When I was in seventh grade, I was able to watch my sister, Class of 2016, walk across the stage at Mount St. Mary’s. I could see how excited my dad was to have his daughter graduate from the same school he and all his siblings did as well. From that moment, I was so excited to be the third Linganore alum in our family.

When the news was announced that our turf would be turned into our graduation stage, my family and I instantly started looking for photos of when my dad graduated on the Linganore field. We couldn’t find many pictures, but my dad knew his friend Debbie Goundry from high school would have more. After reminiscing about his friends from high school, we later found out Goundry is my best friend, Rachel McCoy’s aunt. 

My father, Kevin Hoefs, and her aunt, Debbie Goundry, were friends all of high school and graduated together in ‘81. 

“I think it is so cool that I get to graduate on the field that my aunt did years ago. It means so much more graduating where I went to school for the past four years than some place I have never been before,” said senior, McCoy. 

Debbie Goundry poses with friends after their high school graduation in 1981. (courtesy of Debbie Goundry)

 

It is always a sentimental time graduating from high school, but having your friends by your side makes it a bit easier. McCoy and I were thrilled to be graduating where our family did also, but now feel even more connected that our family members who graduated together were friends, and in this small world we are best friends graduating together on the same field as well.

“I can’t imagine graduating anywhere else besides the football field. That’s all we knew, but I wouldn’t have had it any other way. I have been to several graduations at The Mount and they were nice, but it wasn’t the same. The football field is so special. It’s where we shared so many great memories. You guys will look back on it and realize how special it was,” said Goundry.

Bo Eskay, class of 1983, played soccer with my father and uncles during their time at Linganore. He now runs FC Frederick, a local soccer club I play for.

Bo Eskay takes in one last memory during graduation. (Courtesy of Bo Eskay)

“The thing I remember most about graduation was having a ceremony surrounded by all my friends,” said Eskay. “There was so much excitement about what was coming next, there was just a different kind of energy there, it was awesome.”

The Class of 2021 is very thankful to be receiving a graduation. Getting four tickets is not ideal, but being able to have a bit of normalcy is what the class of 2021 has been hoping for. I would love to see this tradition continue in the future.

“The Mount is a great school and can hold many family members; however, the field holds a lot of memories. It’s nice to finish your journey as one last memory where you have been for the past four years,” said Eskay.

A lot of time and energy goes in to making a graduation so special for students. The Class of 2021 will have some of the most powerful stories and memories that came with such a difficult year.

“This isn’t just a high school graduation, but a COVID graduation, and you made it, Congrats!” said Eskay.