by Dennis Dalman
Lauren Sip and Alyssa Gehrke of Sartell are just two of hundreds of high-school seniors who are disappointed that a graduation ceremony might be canceled due to the virus crisis.
However, school officials are still not able to determine with certainty if – or what kind of – ceremony could take place.
If the ceremony is indeed canceled, it would be an unprecedented outcome – almost unimaginable, considering the fact that graduation is one of the most cherished rituals in a lifetime.
“Yes, it’s annoying,” said Sip. “We’ve been going to school with so many of these people ever since we were in kindergarten. It’s really frustrating. All my friends are disappointed, to say the least.”
Many seniors, like Sip, are just assuming there won’t be a graduation ceremony.
Sip, who will turn 18 on May 9, is – like so many other people – now homebound, doing schoolwork via internet connections with her teachers.
“I spend about two or three hours a day doing that,” she said. “Working on school stuff, reading books, writing some stuff online.”
Like most teenagers, Sip said she loves to “hang out with my friends.” But that is all but impossible to do in these weeks of social distancing. Instead, she and her friends communicate via social media, phone calls and sometimes by Skyping.
Sip is the daughter of Rob and Amy Sip. Amy works for Granite City Armored Car and can still leave home for work. Rob, however, is able to work from home for his job with the Red River Watershed Management Board.
“I do get bored sometimes,” Sip said. “During the day, it’s just my dad and me and our dog, Coco. Dad and I play board games and cards. And I love being with Coco. We (she and her father) take Coco for walks. We sit on the deck. And I go for runs. I also watch a lot of Netflix shows. Right now I’m watching Grey’s Anatomy, the series.”
Sip’s big hope is that school might open for a day or two at the end of May if the virus crisis breaks by then, even if a formal graduation ceremony has to be canceled. That way, she’ll be able to see and talk with all the classmates she’s known since kindergarten before they all graduate and move on – many to other states, other colleges, other opportunities and new careers.
Sip, whose favorite school subject is algebra, is going to study at Mankato State University and has not yet selected a major topic of study.
Alyssa Gehrke is also concerned about graduation.
“I am worried, but I really hope it (some form of graduation) still happens,” she said. “So many of us have been together in schools for 13 years so maybe we can do something – at least some kind of get-together.”
Alyssa is the daughter of Kent and Cheryl Gehrke. Her mother is a professor of nursing at Rasmussen Business College and now teaches virtual classes via internet. Her father is a State Farm agent who can still work in his St. Cloud office.
Alyssa has two brothers, an older one named Alex, a younger one named Aidan and a little sister, Lily. Alex is now a freshman at Rasmussen. The others are still at home. She also enjoys the family’s two pets – Buck the dog and Jazzy the cat.
With the family mostly housebound, social distancing, they’ve been playing a lot of video games and card games, she noted.
On March 30, Gehrke, like all students in the area, participated in classes at home via video conferences. The classes were media literacy, speech and painting.
“They were interesting, and it was nice to see teachers and classmates again and to interact with them, if only by video,” she said.
Gehrke plans to become an elementary teacher.
“I would like to tell all my classmates that I hope we get to see each other again, at least for awhile, for one last time,” she said. “I also hope it (virus crisis) gets easier soon for everyone – students, teachers and staff.”