JJC to host drive-thru, virtual graduation

JJC’s graduation ceremony will be held as a drive-thru ceremony, with a one car per family rule and a virtual commencement on Friday, May 21.

“My hope is that they have a day of celebration with their families. Understanding that we’re still not in what we would consider “normal times,” Robert Morris, dean of enrollment, said. “I want them to look back on this day, and on these events, and smile.”

This ceremony is the first to be open to graduates from 2020 as well, since they did not have the opportunity to celebrate in-person. Communication was sent out to those eligible from graduation in 2020 Spring, 2020 Fall, 2021 Spring and the soon-to-be grads for 2021 Summer.

“What we found from a lot of the graduates is they just missed that personal experience,” Morris said. “That celebratory on-campus kind of experience.”

The drive-thru celebration will be held from 4 – 7 p.m. for those students who signed up to participate. Staff, faculty and students are welcome to line the parade route, which will start at the U-building and end in front of the event center.

According to Morris, the parade route is set to “travel across the front of the huge campus buildings and around A.” At the end of the route, President Judy Mitchell will be handing out diploma covers. The Board of Trustees will be there as well.

“It’s all about the graduates, they deserve celebration and the whole goal of this is to give them the best, most festive, and safest opportunity to celebrate,” Morris said.

In the adjacent parking lot to the event center, there will be photo opportunities with card board cut-outs and Wiley the Wolf. Those who would like to can wear their regale, but it is not required.

According to Assistant Registrar Kathy Delgado, co-chair alongside Morris on the graduation committee, the drive-thru ceremony will happen through rain or shine.

“There will be tents set up along the parade route should it rain,” Delgado said. “Dr. Mitchell and the Board of Trustees would be stationed in a booth of their own in front of the event center.”

The photo booth will also be protected from any wind and rain with a tent, as will all the other activities in the adjacent parking lot. Those looking to cheer graduates along their parade route will also be protected in tents.

“Everything’s in one day and the idea was to have people drive through and then be able to get home so they can watch their virtual ceremony with their families,” Morris said.

The virtual commencement will be available at 7 p.m. on Friday, May 21. The link to the ceremony can be found at jjc.edu/graduation.

“We have, I would say, around 270 students that chose to participate,” Morris said. “So, what they will do is, either they will have their picture taken on campus – and there are a couple opportunities for our meeting staff to take their picture for them – or they will take their own picture.”

JJC is working with StageClip, a company created to help celebrate achievements virtually, who will take all the photos or videos submitted to create a video for families and graduates to watch.

“What they do is they package it all into the ceremony. The speech from Dr. Mitchell, the faculty speaker, and the photos of the graduates,” Morris said.

The decision to host a drive-thru ceremony and a virtual celebration, sprouted from concerns over slowing the spread of COVID-19.

“A drive-thru ceremony will allow everyone to maintain social distancing, will allow graduates and their families to parade through campus in decorated cards,” Morris said. “It’s going to be extremely safe because we’re going to take every precaution.”

Those attending the drive-thru ceremony are expected to follow CDC guidelines for social distancing and wearing a mask.
For any questions, please contact the graduation office by emailing it at graduationoffice@jjc.edu or calling (815) 280-6671.