Walking the Red Carpet: Valley’s Graduation Ceremony – COVID-19 Style


One of four valedictorians, Christian Howe, about to receive his diploma.

Kahleia Corpuz, Editor-in-Chief

Amber Reyes on the red carpet, waiting to receive her diploma.

Senior year, the final year of a thirteen year long process, is the peak of the teenage experience. With senior sunrise, sunset, prom, ditch day, and pranks, there is no year in the K-12 curriculum that could be more fun! However, when all of those events got canceled by the threat of COVID-19, many students of the class of 2020 were hoping for one thing to be maintained: their graduation.

Many Valley students have watched their predecessors walk the giant stage of Thomas and Mack to receive their diplomas, a tangible achievement created by their own hard work. It was very disheartening for many of the seniors to hear that their infamous moment of glory may not happen. Rest assured, superintendent Jesus Jara, was quick to relieve the class of 2020’s fears promising that there would be a modified graduation ceremony to commemorate their achievements. Some of the seniors felt that this announcement was the moment they were waiting for. While some, still yearning for a conventional graduation, felt that this specialized graduation would never live up to the moment they dreamed of.

With this in mind, the staff of Valley High School knew they needed a plan to ensure the seniors’ accomplishments were properly celebrated while maintaining the new social distancing guidelines. Assistant Principal Jennifer Geissinger, who was in charge of the event, reached out to the graduating seniors to see what they wanted in this specialized graduation ceremony. Through these results, Geissinger and her team decided that a drive-thru type ceremony would fulfill the students’ wants to have an in-person graduation while staying within the CDC guidelines. 

Vince Bognot, one of the Senior Class advisors, knew what he wanted this graduation to fulfill, remarking, “We aim to have the seniors feel celebrated. PERIOD, as you young kids say.”

To keep this graduation special, graduates were treated to a red carpet treatment complete with formal graduation photos. The Eastern side of Valley High School was decorated with arrays of balloons and decorations, complete with the class of 2020’s class song, Don’t Stop Believin’ by Journey. Graduates and their families followed a route to drop off their graduate and drive by as they got their pictures taken and their diplomas. Lasting seven and a half hours, it truly was a special moment for both now Valley alumni and their families!

IB Graduate Bryan Molina waits on the red carpet to pick up his diploma.

While many graduates received their diplomas, Valley High School Principal Ramona Esparza, made sure to leave a lasting impression on their graduates. 

When asked what exactly she was saying to the graduates, Esparza responded, “I asked them how they felt about this special moment and told them how proud I was of them. This diploma was for their family and for themselves. Each message was personalized to them because they are so unique and special to me.”

Remembering Esparza’s powerful message in that emotional moment, graduate Kamuela Castellano remarked, “She told me that I was a Valley alumni now, and that I should remember Valley as a place I developed as a person. She told me that I had a bright future ahead and that I was ready to take the first step forward.”

Despite their once skeptical attitudes, the seniors’ faith in the Valley staff was solidified with their amazing graduation! Graduate Deysaree Ka’ala Mamuad complimented the staff on their efforts, “Valley’s staff never disappoints. It’s one of the sole reasons why I’m so proud to have attended Valley,” adding, “So while it may not have been ideal, our staff never fails to do their best for us.”

While the class of 2020 seniors have closed this chapter of their life, they never will forget what Valley meant to them, or as now Valley alumni Valeria Gomez puts it, “Valley felt like home.”


Valley Viking Scholar Member Paola Martinez waits on the red carpet to receive her diploma.
Emily Linares waits on the red carpet to walk up to receive her diploma.


















The class of 2020 may not know where their midnight train will go, but there is no question that they will remember their time at Valley. As we wave goodbye to our new class of alumni, Geissinger has a final message to send our graduates off on: “The administration, staff, and I are so incredibly proud of the Class of 2020 and their resilience during this pandemic, and we are so excited to celebrate your accomplishments and send you off to your next journey in life with a memorable graduation gala.  Congratulations Class of 2020!”


Principal Ramona Esparza poses with Jovani Luna after he received his diploma.
Deysaree Mamuad waits on the red carpet to receiver her diploma.
Valley Staff, Faculty, and Admin after celebrating Viking graduates at the day long ceremony on June 19.


From Thor’s Hammer:

In this folder, you will find well over 3000 pictures of 2020’s graduation celebration.  These images are being shared as a one-time offer.  Please feel free to download and share any images.  Images are copyrighted to the photographer, and all four photographers give you permission to use these photos with your families and friends.


Photographers:  Ryan Ocampo, Kelly Pedrick, Tuan Pham, and Anna Salgado