Ellington High School

Ellington High School Holds Drive-In Graduation

NBC Universal, Inc.

It was a different kind of production at Mansfield Drive-In Theatre. Instead of a movie, Ellington High School held an in-person graduation to abide by social distancing guidelines.

It's the event every high school senior looks forward to: graduation. Names read, speeches given, pictures taken. While all that happened, it was anything but typical.

"I imagined that I was going to be sitting with all my classmates, like together, see my family in the stands," said graduate Katelin Johndrow.

But the pandemic made that impossible, leaving a lot of students feeling like they were missing a big moment in their lives.

"I was definitely very devastated because graduation was always something I was looking forward to," said graduate Madison Holden.

"I was very sad, and it kind of hit me all at once. But the more I thought about it, I was just happy my family was healthy, I was healthy, and I knew that my community and school would do something special," said Johndrow.

So students like Johndrow and EHS administration worked together to find a new way. In a socially-distant world, drive-ins seemed like the ideal solution. So with the help of health departments, state police, and many others, graduation was on.

"I'm definitely feeling better about it and happy that we're here right now," said graduate Christopher Hoover.

Instead of rows of chairs, rows of cars filled the Mansfield Drive-In Theatre. Each student was allowed one assigned spot. And just like going to the movies, they turned on their radios and listened in.

As names were read, one at a time, students popped out of their car windows.

Honking replaced applause.

And it's not graduation without getting a picture to mark the moment. So one at a time, seniors got that too.

For family members it was just as important they got to be there to celebrate all the hard work that's led to the moment.

"Once I found out that they were going to be able to do something like this, I was super excited because I just want to see her happy," said Johndrow's younger sister Megan.

As grads begin their next chapter, it's a moment they won't forget.

"It's not just getting the diploma. It's about being together one last time," said Katelin Johndrow.

Contact Us