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Park Record, May 19, 2021--Park City's 2021 seniors psyched for more traditional graduation ceremony; South Summit, North Summit also holding ceremonies with few limitations...

Park City High School’s 2021 senior class will cap off their high school careers with a more traditional ceremony, which was no guarantee after the COVID-19 pandemic caused so much upheaval for last year’s graduating class. While some changes will remain, Park City seniors — and their peers at North Summit and South Summit high schools — will be walking in front of their families in style.

Park City High School will hold its graduation June 3 on the North 40 fields, and will move the festivities indoors to the Eccles Center in the event of bad weather. The graduation will begin at 5 p.m.

Park City High School Principal Roger Arbabi said the ceremony will be very “Park City-esque,” with the graduates in the stands and families in low chairs and blankets on the field.

“Last year was the first time that we held graduation at North 40 fields,” he said. “We did this so that we socially distance families. We will continue to do so this year so that we don’t severely restrict the number of family members who want to see their senior graduate.”

Arbabi said school officials are proud of the senior class and how well they’ve adapted to some very trying circumstances.

“Our senior class has been so flexible this year,” he said. “We have had to pivot and realign to new guidelines multiple times. I feel that we were able to give our seniors the most ‘normal’ year under the circumstances.”

Park City School District Superintendent Dr. Jill Gildea said the silver lining of the 2020 graduation celebration was the creativity it fostered, and many of the ideas they came up with are carrying over to this year and likely beyond. Gildea said the class of 2021 has an Instagram page, @PCHSClass2021, with photos of each graduate and their post-graduation plans. Park City seniors will have photo opportunities at Dozier Field earlier in the week. After Thursday’s practice and a breakfast provided by the student council, the grads will head up to Deer Valley Resort for a ski lift ride and a small celebration just for them. They’ll head back to school for the formal ceremonies that afternoon.

South Summit High School seniors will also “get to shine” this year, according to district spokesperson Jodi Jones.

South Summit’s graduation will be held on the field at Wildcat Stadium at 6 p.m. Friday, May 28, with 125 students set to graduate. The district is asking families to self-limit how many people attend but is not enforcing any attendance limitations.

“The past few years graduation has been held at the Dejoria Center, so this year is different in that we are holding it outside at the football stadium and will continue with that plan regardless of what Mother Nature throws at us that evening,” Jones said. “There is no back-up plan for inclement weather.”

Jones said the district opted to commit to the outdoor setting out of an abundance of caution, as they didn’t know months ago what the state of the pandemic would be this spring.

“We didn’t know if we’d be allowed to gather that many people indoors (at the DeJoria Center), so we planned an outdoor ceremony to ensure a safer experience,” she said.

South Summit High School Principal Chris Jenson said the announcement that students would get to enjoy a more traditional graduation ceremony was met by “resounding applause” from the students.

“The ability to start moving toward normalcy is exciting for everyone,” he said. “I am so proud of our student body, our staff and our community for how they’ve weathered the storm of COVID-19.”

Silver Summit Academy graduation will be held at Promontory Amphitheater on Thursday, May 27 at 6 p.m. There are seven graduates. Jones said this is the first year the ceremony will be held in the Silver Creek area, where the school is located, rather than in Kamas.

North Summit High School graduation will be held at 7:30 p.m. May 24 in the school’s auditorium. Principal Wade Murdock said each graduate will get six tickets for their families in an effort to keep the number of attendees in check. Last year, Murdock said, they held a “virtual” graduation ceremony, recording each student walking across the aisle and receiving their diplomas individually. A return to something like normalcy, Murdock said, is a welcome development for everyone.

“The mood around campus is excitement and gratitude,” he said. “It has been a long, difficult year, but we survived it as a community and as a district. Eight or nine months ago we were not sure this would happen.”