With the sudden closure of all schools in mid-March due to the Covid-19 Pandemic, most high school students were happy to get a break from their stressful schedules. But many seniors were disappointed and heartbroken over the rapid end to the last year of their high school career.

Some seniors felt a whirlwind of emotions, including anger and depression, as the closure of schools prevented them from traditionally experiencing milestones like graduation and prom; events they had been waiting for since they embarked on their high school journey. 

“This celebration only happens once in a lifetime,“ says Garfield High School senior Erika Flores. “That’s why it’s so upsetting that I will not experience that special moment.” 

Senior Class Presidents at two Eastside high schools – James Garfield in East LA and Theodore Roosevelt High School in Boyle Heights – sympathize with their peers. They had put in a lot of work throughout the year to plan something special for 2020 graduating students, but had to come up with alternatives after schools were closed and safer-at-home orders imposed. 

Nataly Andrade

“It took a lot of meetings, planning, and working with my cabinet to put senior year together,” says Garfield’s Senior Class President Nataly Andrade. “It just sucks that my peers did not have a chance to have fun and really make our last three months memorable.” 

Events that were cancelled at Garfield High School include a laser tag event, movie night, Powderpuff football game, a glow-in-the-dark event, as well as a brunch event. All were highly anticipated by seniors. 

At Roosevelt, the Senior Sunrise and Breakfast, an event in which the class would watch the sunrise early in the morning and then eat breakfast all together, was supposed to occur in late May. The Senior Sunset, where the class watches a movie on an inflatable screen on the football field while the sun sets, was also canceled. 

Both schools canceled their senior prom and Disney “Grad Nite.” Because in-person graduations cannot take place, both schools will be holding a virtual graduation.

Arely Valencia

“For many, experiencing the traditional graduation ceremony is the moment that our parents dreamed for and the reason why they came into this country, to give us a better opportunity,” says Roosevelt’s Senior Class President Arely Valencia. “It is devastating that seniors will not have that opportunity.”   

Roosevelt’s MSTMA Valedictorian Litzy Borquez was planning on dedicating her graduation speech to her parents. “I wanted to make all my parents’ hard work and sacrifices of raising my brothers and me worth it,” she says.  “Being deprived of that is beyond heartbreaking.”

Student government leaders from both Garfield and Roosevelt have done their best to help the Class of 2020 feel acknowledged during their last month of school. 

Valencia and her cabinet gave lawn signs commemorating Roosevelt’ graduating seniors. Other local high schools like Francisco Bravo, Salesian High School, and Boyle Heights Stem Magnet High School did something similar. Boyle Heights Community of Schools, an organization that supports all LAUSD schools in the Boyle Heights neighborhood, is also giving seniors from local high schools in the neighborhood a custom lawn sign highlighting “Class of 2020.”

Valencia coordinated with her campus’ administrators to provide a sweater, a long sleeve shirt, and a drawstring bag for every Roosevelt senior as a small gift for them to remember their high school.

At Garfield, class leaders collaborated with head coach Lorenzo Hernández –who is also a reserve police officer – and film teacher Christopher George, to produce a video commemorating the graduating class. In the video, a Sheriff’s helicopter and several police cars roam around the Garfield football stadium that has 2020 all over the scoreboard, marking the time at 20:20 in military format. 

Check out the video here:

“A lot of the seniors said that the video was really amazing and touching that every week our school is thinking of us in their thoughts,” says Andrade. 

On Wednesday nights, Garfield has celebrated their seniors by turning on the lights of their football stadium for 20 minutes starting at 8:00 pm.

Andrade also worked with the LAUSD Local District East office to help decide on a gift to give to all area seniors. In the end, LAUSD Local District East awarded each senior with a free cap and gown.

Class presidents from both schools also hosted a virtual Senior spirit week. They reached out to Fotorama Studio to photoshop seniors wearing their cap and gown into a “panoramic” photo, instead of the traditional way of taking a photo of the whole class together on campus. 

While not what seniors may have envisioned for their senior year, class officers and school staff are attempting to make the end of their high school career memorable. Both Roosevelt and Garfield will host graduation parades, in which cars with a graduate senior can drive around the campus with staff appreciating them.

“A graduation parade will allow us to cherish and reminisce all the great memories our school brought us one last time. It gives an opportunity to say one last final goodbye to all our teachers and friends which is all we could’ve asked for during this harsh time,” says Valencia. 


Roosevelt High School

When: Thursday, June 11, 2020, 5:00 pm

Where: Virtual graduation will stream on the school’s web site.

More: The graduation parade for Roosevelt seniors will occur on June 13, 2020 from 4pm to 7pm. 

Garfield High School

When: Friday, June 12, 2020, 6:00 p.m.

Where: Virtual graduation will stream on the school’s web site.

The date for Garfield’s graduation parade has not been determined, but it will take place about a week after graduation.  

Óscar de la Hoya Ánimo Charter High School

When: Saturday, June 13 , 5:00 pm 

Where: Virtual graduation will stream on the school’s web site.

Méndez High School

When: Saturday, June 13 , 7:00 pm 

Where: Mendez YouTube Channel

Francisco Bravo Medical Magnet School

When: Tuesday, June 16, 6:00 p.m.

Where: Detailed information regarding access pending, to be updated on Parent Portal.


Avatar photo

Daniela Franco

Daniela Franco is a graduating senior at Roosevelt High School in Boyle Heights and will be going to UC Berkeley in the fall. She likes to watch Dodger games and spend time with her nephews/nieces. She...

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *