Due to the ongoing state public health order limiting large gatherings, Belen and Infinity high school seniors will participate in a drive-thru graduation ceremony next week.
The district had hoped to have a live, socially distanced ceremony next Tuesday, June 2, in Eagle Stadium at Belen High School, but state officials nixed the plans.
“We tried everything we could,” said BCS Superintendent Diane Vallejos Friday morning.
The district sent its plan for a more traditional ceremony to the Secretary of Education, Dr. Ryan Stewart, who consulted with the governor’s office, Vallejos said.
“Due to the current health orders we are under, we will not be permitted to have the ceremony in the stadium,” she said. “This is not the news we were hoping to hear.”
A Facebook post on the district’s page read, in part, “This news saddens our entire staff. We were sincerely hoping we would be able to send the Class of 2020 off with the graduation ceremony they have worked hard for and greatly deserve.”
The ceremony will be live streamed on the district’s website — beleneagles.org — at 6 p.m., Tuesday, June 9. Pre-recorded speeches from the valedictorians and salutatorian will also be on the website.
“We are only doing speeches from the students, no one else,” the superintendent said. “The focus is on them.”
Belen and Infinity high school students and their guests will enter the BHS campus by Christopher Road; line-up begins at 5:30 p.m. Students are reminded to have a mask with them for the ceremony. All guests and family members must be in one vehicle with their graduate; graduates may have as many guests as can fit in the single vehicle.
Vehicles will enter the roundabout in front of the high school’s administration building and students will be asked to leave their vehicle, wearing a mask. Then the vehicle will continue through the roundabout and stop in front of the stage to watch their graduate receive their diploma cover.
After the graduate crosses the stage, they will reenter their vehicle and leave campus via the Delgado Road gate.
No cars will be allowed to enter the BHS campus using the Delgado Road entrance.
Since there won’t be a graduation ceremony at the stadium, Fr. Clement Niggel, the pastor at Our Lady of Belen Church, will perform graduation masses and diploma presentations for any graduates interested.
“We might have to do several, depending on how many are interested, but I will do as many as necessary,” Niggel said. “They are open to everyone, but people should keep in mind, they will be in the context of a Mass.”
Graduates who would like to participate should call Cindy in the faith formation office at 864-7869.
Julia M. Dendinger began working at the VCNB in 2006. She covers Valencia County government, Belen Consolidated Schools and the village of Bosque Farms. She is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists Rio Grande chapter’s board of directors.