SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - After COVID-19 cancelled countless graduation ceremonies last year, Santa Barbara High School’s Class of 2020 finally had its moment to shine on Saturday.
The students were happy to return for a commencement ceremony after theirs was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The class headed down the hill at the newly renovated Peabody Stadium, a place these grads never thought they'd never be.
"It felt honestly familiar that this is our home, it was our home for so long," said Vivian Shay, Santa Barbara High Class of 2020 graduate.
"After doing a year of online classes, it's really nice to be able to look at people face-to-face again and say hello and give them a fist pump," Class of 2020 ASB president Miller Brichan said.
Like many other students across the country, COVID cut short the last portion of these Dons' senior year.
"Turned out that everything was over and that we'd never walk through the hallways as a student again, so that hurt pretty bad," Brichan said.
However, Santa Barbara High principal Elise Simmons pledged that this group would eventually step on the stage.
"So I promised them that when we were allowed to, we would be together again," she said.
"Well, we didn't even have a graduation and now we get to say we're the first into the stadium, so it's really nice," Brichan said.
"It was a promise fulfilled and a special moment to connect again," Simmons said.
This bittersweet ending was only a bit delayed as 185 students filled up the field with hugs, cheers and smiles.
"In a way, it was more meaningful to come back a year later and really appreciate how much Santa Barbara High means to us," Shay concluded.
Santa Barbara High will host another in-person graduation on Wednesday at Peabody Stadium for this year's Class of 2021.