The Burbank High School Class of 2020 celebrated their graduation on Friday evening, May 22, with a virtual graduation ceremony online beginning at 6:00 p.m.
Graduation was the culmination of a week of senior events for the 656 graduates, which included students zoned to BHS with the Independent Learning Academy.
“This Class of 2020 is a special group by any measure,” commented Burbank High Principal Thomas Crowther. “From my first day at BHS this year, they’ve been nothing but amazing.”
“I’m so sad for them that they were the group of seniors who lost all the culminating events that typically mark the end of their K-12 schooling. We’ve always communicated that should the COVID-19 situation improve we would attempt a live event later.”
“For now, I hope they watch the virtual graduation and realize a few things: 1. They’re so talented. Look at what they’ve accomplished and what they will accomplish next. 2. We love them, and hopefully it is conveyed in the efforts of their virtual graduation. 3. I am proud to be their principal.”
The week began with the release of BASH, an animated film festival created in collaboration with partner Nickelodeon Studios to highlight Burbank Animation Program student short films made during the 2019-20 school year, on Monday, May 18. Watch it online here at https://youtu.be/s2l-FNEHdfA.
Parents and supporters hung posters along the school fence, following safety guidelines, during the day on Wednesday, so that by Thursday, the celebratory posters were on display for the planned parade of graduates’ cars.
Graduating students decorated cars with the school colors of blue and white and drove a “last lap” around the Burbank High campus on Thursday, May 21, to drop off textbooks and celebrate their impending graduation.
Crowther noted that as plans were being discussed a few months ago how to recognize the graduating Class of 2020, there were concerns how to “execute our vision in time for the original graduation date. This is only happening now because we connected with the amazing team at MOcean.”
“BHS-TV, under teacher Amy Winn, has been very influential during the ‘safer at home’ distance learning efforts,” Crowther explained. “She and the students produce a weekly show with announcements that keep the students connected to campus. Additionally, Amy has worked in studio with us as we pre-recorded a lot of the speeches for our graduation in the program’s green screen room.”
BHS-TV produced the school’s award shows, and recorded vital segments for the virtual graduation, which local post house MOcean then edited and packaged into the final graduation show.
“Craig Murray, the CEO, has always been a supporter of BUSD schools. His daughter was a choir kid at BHS, he has long been involved with Burbank Arts for All, he is passionate about our students and our schools,” Crowther added. “Folks on his creative team, like Senior Editor Art St. Germain, have kids in Burbank Schools. When they learned of the situation and told me they were willing to help, I was super excited.”
“From our initial meeting, I knew this had a chance to be special. As everything is starting to come together, I can’t wait for the students and families to see it. It is special. I know it isn’t how our Bulldogs imagined finishing high school. I know we won’t be able to capture the emotion that goes into a graduation in a stadium, but in terms of giving them something different, something special and a keepsake that they will cherish, this is it.”
Valedictorian Anna Tong and Salutatorians Corine Chung and Minju Kim, along with ASB President Sarkis TerPetrossyan, gave the student speeches for the virtual graduation. Crowther also noted that drama and dance students recorded performances for the graduation program for the first time.
“We gave students the opportunity to submit a ‘Senior statement’ as they moved the tassel, which is meant to replace the chance to walk across the stage,” Crowther added.
“We also have an amazingly talented Senior, Nina Estrada who writes original songs, [performing] ‘Right Here.’ It is stunningly beautiful. The song will debut as a music video at our Faculty Excellence Awards on 5/19 and will be in the background of a Senior Slide show during the graduation. Again, turning this terrible situation into an opportunity to bring our school community together.”
The Burbank High Class of 2020 virtual graduation also included special shout outs from local celebrities.
“A huge thank you to our community partners at MOcean for producing our virtual graduation, an incredible keepsake for our Seniors. This will be the best virtual graduation anywhere!”
The Burbank High virtual graduation can be watched online here. It’s just over two hours in length.