Clarkson College staggers families, hosts students for graduation

The catch? The ceremony lasted 10 hours
Clarkson College holds a 10-hour marathon graduation ceremony
Published: Dec. 12, 2020 at 12:18 AM CST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Pandemic or not, this wasn’t your normal graduation ceremony.

No crowds, no handshakes. But families could watch their graduating students walk the stage during the COVID-19 pandemic at the Clarkson College campus Friday.

The catch? The ceremony lasted 10 hours.

“I’m a nurse, I still remember what it feels like to be on my feet for a long time,” said Dr. James Hauschildt, president of Clarkson College.

Before the pandemic, Clarkson College celebrated graduation at the Mid-America Center, but Iowa’s governor limited gatherings to mitigate the spread of coronavirus.

So, Dr. Hauschildt and the college decided last month he would stand on stage from 9 o’clock in the morning to 7 o’clock at night in order to stagger families and congratulate students face-to-face.

“I’m getting time on the stage to talk with the graduates and ask them where they’re from and what they have learned,” Dr. Hauschildt said. “Then I get to meet the families and really learn about what’s going on at home and how that family has helped support that graduate through the process.”

“This is a big moment,” one graduate said. “And [Clarkson College] knew that and they figured out a way to let us have something.”

Graduating students got to bring two guests, who entered Howard Hall 15 minutes ahead of their scheduled time slot. Then, each graduate had five minutes to walk the stage and be hooded or pinned by a member of their family.

Graduate Mckenna Gill was pinned by her mother, while her brother captured pictures and video on a cell phone for the rest of the family who couldn’t be there.

“They’re going to want to see this moment,” Gill said. “They’re missing out, but they still get to see the day I graduate.”

The school divided the ceremony by areas of study, which gave Dr. Hauschildt a chance to take a load off every hour or so.

“We’ve been able to spend a little bit more time with each family,” Dr. Hauschildt said. “I could see us potentially in the future incorporating some of the lessons learned from today.”

Clarkson College is inviting 2020 graduates from the spring, summer, and fall to its 2021 spring graduation ceremony. A school spokesperson says the school hopes to host in-person ceremonies by then.

Copyright 2020 WOWT. All rights reserved.