Some Alabama Graduations Saved By Going Virtual

 1499725141 
1588176195
WBHM

Ignite! Alabama streams virtual graduation for the class of 2020 amid coronavirus pandemic.

The traditional in-person graduation ceremonies for Alabama’s high schools and colleges were either cancelled or postponed this spring because of the coronavirus.  

For Shades Valley High School senior Taniyah Dyer, there was no walking across the stage or throwing her hat in the air. Like thousands of Alabama students, Dyer finished her courses from home. 

“I was upset because our prom got cancelled and the graduation and awards day, senior breakfast, all of that is cancelled,” she said.  

Dyer thought she wouldn’t be recognized this year.  But she got a pleasant surprise. 

Ignite! Alabama has made it possible for 2020 high school and college graduates to celebrate their achievements.  The organization supports minority women in business.

Jefferson County Commissioner Sheila Tyson is the board president for Ignite! Alabama. She says it stepped in after hearing from a few graduates who were upset about the cancellation of senior activities. 

“It will never be a replacement for the graduation and the prom, but it’s something to keep their minds focused on what’s ahead,” she said.                                                        

More than 400 high school and college graduates participated in the virtual graduation. Their names were listed during the online event and their photos were posted on the Ignite! Alabama’s Facebook page. 

About a dozen of them received cash prizes, laptops and other electronics from the event’s sponsors. According to the organization, nearly 18,000 people viewed the celebration.

Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin spoke at the virtual graduation and acknowledged the graduates’ willingness to adapt as their senior year was disrupted by COVID-19.

“Life teaches us how to pivot and you have been champions on how to do that this year,” he said.

Woodfin, U.S. Senator Doug Jones, and a few celebrities participated in the virtual event which was offered on Ignite! Alabama’s social media platforms and streamed on its website.

UAB graduates pose for graduation photos earlier this year.

The University of Alabama at Birmingham and Alabama State University are planning similar events by hosting virtual commencement celebrations this weekend. 

UAB’s Provost Pam Benoit says it was important for the university to recognize this year’s graduates.

“We wanted to celebrate with them, so we put together a virtual commencement,” she said. “There are ceremonies that will air on UAB’s Youtube, Facebook and IG TV channels.”

Benoit says the online event will include recordings from student leaders, deans and the university’s president. She says graduates have also sent in short videos that will be interspersed throughout the virtual commencement. 

“We tried to, in a virtual setting, create the celebratory atmosphere of a commencement, even though we can’t be there and do it in person,” she said.

Graduation may look a lot different this year, but Benoit says the class of 2020 will be remembered for their resilience during an unforeseen national crisis. 

For some, like Taniyah Dyer, it’s just enough motivation to prepare for the next chapter.

More Coronavirus Coverage

UAB To Open New Coronavirus Facility For Elderly Patients

The University of Alabama at Birmingham is creating a specialized skilled nursing facility for some COVID-19 patients in Jefferson County. Alabama's nursing homes have seen an influx of coronavirus cases since the pandemic began in late March.

Ivey Extends COVID-19 Health Order Through July

Gov. Ivey extended a public health order aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus. It would have expired Friday.

‘It’s A Reality For Us.’ ICU Nurse Shares The Impact Of COVID-19

Kelsey Jacks is a registered nurse in the medical Intensive care unit at UAB Hospital, where she takes care of the sickest COVID-19 patients. To help people understand the impact of the virus, she recorded an audio diary during a recent shift.

Face Masks Required Throughout Jefferson County Starting Monday

Beginning Monday, face masks will be required in indoor spaces open to the public throughout Jefferson County. Health officer Dr. Mark Wilson announced the new order Friday, citing concerns about the recent increase in spread of COVID-19.

Alabama Schools To Open In August, But Parents Have Home Education Option

Alabama public schools will reopen in August despite the COVID-19 pandemic, but parents will be given the option of continuing distance learning.

Coronavirus Cases In Ages 5-24 Double Within A Month; Alabama Hits New Record Daily High

Alabama saw the number of coronavirus cases double among 5 to 24-year-olds, according to data from the Alabama Department of Public Health. The state also recorded a new daily high of 1,129 cases between 10 a.m. Wednesday and 10 a.m. Thursday.

More Coronavirus Coverage