Local Graduates Celebrate During The Coronavirus Pandemic

Amanda Cooper
May 25, 2020 - 10:19 pm
Class of 2020

(Photo Credit: Amanda Cooper/RADIO.COM)

Since the beginning of the 2019-2020 school year, many high school and college seniors have looked forward to walking across the stage. However, due to the coronavirus pandemic, family and friends are celebrating their graduate’s educational milestone in groups of ten or less, virtually, or celebration drive-throughs. With so much uncertainty during the coronavirus pandemic, many have asked, is this the beginning of a new normal of future graduations?

Jaden Smith of Lawrenceville, Ga, graduated this weekend from South Gwinnett High School. He completed his 12-year tenure as an honor roll student. He also received two cords for orchestra and another for completing an engineering program called Pathways.

2020 High School Graduate Jaden Smith
(Photo Credit: Amanda Cooper/RADIO.COM)

Like many graduates in the metro, his family and friends drove by with cars draped in celebratory decorations, horns blaring, and loud cheers of joy. All in an effort to ensure social distancing guidelines were followed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. 

Gwinnett County Graduation Parade
(Photo Credit: Melanie Smith)

I spoke with Jaden and his parents James Smith and Tina Shoemaker-Smith, about the lost opportunity to celebrate their son’s educational milestone. Jaden and his parents all say, “It’s a part of God’s plan.”

Nationally, several celebrities teamed up to celebrate students virtually. From Cardi B, Lil Nas and even Oprah Winfrey, graduates received celebratory speeches across social media

The class of 2020 also had the honor of having former President Barack Obama deliver a graduation speech.


No one is sure if this will be the new normal for future graduations. Despite the restrictions, Jaden’s family and friends, along with all residents in Gwinnett County, were able to watch the county’s 24 high schools and learning centers virtual graduation on the Gwinnett County Public Schools’s website. Jaden’s mother, says, “The upside is if things had been as normal, we would not have had enough tickets for everyone to attend his graduation.”