Reunited: San Francisco seniors graduate in person after year of distance learning

Seniors from Phillip and Sala Burton Academic School in San Francisco were finally together again.

They weren't on campus, but at Kezar Stadium Tuesday where they received their high school diplomas after enduring a senior year spent largely at home secluded from classmates because of COVID.

"I'm glad to be able to walk the stage in person rather than on camera," said senior Michael Sagote.
About 4,000 seniors are graduating from San Francisco public high schools this week.

Last year's graduation ceremonies looked nothing like this year's as those happened online.

It was until recently that San Francisco public health officials gave the OK for outdoor ceremonies. But students must sit at least six feet apart, and students can have no more than four guests who must sit in pods. Also, the venues are all disinfected between ceremonies.

Before Burton's graduation, Lowell High School had its ceremony.

"Very happy. It's been a long ride especially this year," said Jonathan Lei. Especially this year because some high schools only allowed most seniors to attend in-person classes for three to five days over two weeks. Only about 15% of students came in.

Some students say for all the disappointment over the year they did learn to persevere.

"We've been mentally focused because we have to push ourselves a lot more," said one Burton graduate.

"We've really learned the power of communication. We will keep that skill forever," said another.

It's all but certain the class of 2022 won't have to endure what the previous two classes endured.

The district has announced full in-person learning beginning in the fall.