HUNTINGTON, WV (WOWK) — The pandemic changed so many things in everyone’s lives. Milestone events, such as weddings and graduations were no exception.
However, there is newfound excitement and anticipation in the air at Marshall University after the announcement was made they will be having an in-person graduation ceremony this spring.
Marshall University’s spring commencement ceremony will have a different look than previous years.
“We’re having a big outside ceremony, face-to-face for the first time,” says Sonja Cantrell-Johnson, university registrar at Marshall University.
This year, graduation will be held at the Joan C. Edwards Stadium—and it’s a ceremony students have long awaited.
“It’s like a rite of passage, almost. You’re graduating, you’re going to the workforce or if you’re going to master’s school, whichever you’re doing, it’s kind of like that next step,” says Rachel Kraschnewski, a graduating student at Marshall University.
It’s a step so many students didn’t get to take in 2020 due to COVID-19 cancellations.
Now, they are getting their chance, too.
“We’ve invited the May, July, August, and December 2020 graduates as well as the May 2021 tentative graduates,” Cantrell-Johnson says.
Preparations are already underway to accommodate the large crowd.
“We have a little over a thousand confirmed, but students can still confirm up through Wednesday,” Cantrell-Johnson says, “The families will be sitting in the stands and the students will be on the field, and masks are required!”
With the change of location from inside the Mountain Health Arena, graduating Marshall University students say they don’t mind the change of scenery.
“It doesn’t really make a difference to me; I think it’ll accommodate a lot more people to allow for the social distancing…and I think it’ll be cool to be on the jumbotron!” says Rachel Kraschnewski.
Her sister, Jessica Kraschnewski, is also graduating from Marshall University this spring, and says she is also grateful for the chance to walk across the stage.
“Especially with COVID, right now, it means a lot. I know a lot of people didn’t have this opportunity last year, so it means the opportunity to expand our horizons, start our lives and go into something better,” says Jessica Kraschnewski.
Besides the social distancing and masking guidelines, the ceremony will look largely the same as years past; however, once graduates receive their diplomas they will walk off-stage and actually exit the stadium to help with social distancing.
School officials say they coordinated with the local health department to ensure the safety of the event.
For all the lucky graduates walking across the stage, spring commencement is taking place Saturday May 1st at 9:00am.
For more information about Marshall University’s spring commencement, visit their website here.