CORAL SPRINGS, FL – The Class of 2020 graduates of City of Coral Springs Charter School put on caps and gowns. They walked across a flower-covered stage and picked up their diplomas. And they got to say goodbye to their friends and teachers in person.

On Thursday evening, the school pulled off a traditional graduation on its campus within the limits of the coronavirus.

“They deserved it,” said Gary Springer, the school’s principal. “Our kids lost too much at this point and our school wanted to honor them as best we could.”

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While most local public schools held virtual graduations, Coral Springs Charter allowed its 216 seniors to come on campus, have a “pomp and circumstance” procession down the hallways with cheering teachers, and accept their diplomas from Springer as parents clicked their cameras and phones – all while wearing masks and keeping up with social distancing requirements.

With the blessing of the city’s Fire Department, the four-hour ceremony required each graduate and his or her family to enter the building as a group and walk through the halls, auditorium, and gym together, making sure they were a few minutes apart from other families who were ahead or behind them.

“A lot of thought went into this,” said Larry Vignola, a Coral Springs City Commissioner, who was in attendance. “They came up with a plan that made this as safe as possible. They went above and beyond to make this work and make it special.”

The seniors, Vignola added, lost out on many activities, and “you can’t replace that.”

For graduate Joseph Cannon, the ceremony was meaningful.

“Everyone was here. It felt great to see everyone and be there together,” said Cannon who will be going to Florida Gulf Coast University to study journalism.

His mother Linda Cannon said she was grateful the school made the graduation happen.

“They fought hard for it and it was really impactful,” she said.

The school’s seniors this week also had a virtual graduation and got to participate in a drive-by graduation in Coral Springs.

But Springer and his staff wanted the students to share one last hurrah together on campus.

“Being in front of their teachers and staff one last time and being able to walk these halls one last time, it was so important,” he said. “We wanted them to have one last great feeling about this school.”


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