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A Drive-Through Graduation for HS Seniors in Downtown Columbia?

Last night, Valerie Blickstein Sheinker, a parent of a graduating Howard County HS Senior, shared an idea on Facebook about holding a drive-through graduation for all Howard County seniors in downtown Columbia at either Merriweather Post Pavilion or Symphony Woods.

Her post:

I am the parent of one of many high school seniors in this county who will not be getting a graduation while I totally understand the need for social distancing I do not understand why hcpss couldn’t come up with something more creative than a virtual graduation. I have a suggestion. Can hcpss hold graduation the way the hospital does symphony of lights? Where the seniors could drive through merriweather post wearing their caps and gowns. They could put the names of the graduating class on the screen. Play pomp and circumstance the kids could hang out the car windows and sunroofs (with their parents driving). It’s not the same as an in person graduation but it’s socially distant and at least it would feel celebratory and worthy of the occasion.

Needless to say, this is a wonderful idea. And it was immediately embraced by commenters on Facebook. School Board of Education members Chao Wu, Kirsten Coombs, and Vicky Cutroneo all commented entertaining and/or supporting the idea while others expressed their excitement and began to provide ideas and brainstorm logistics. Some proposed the Howard County Fairgrounds as an alternative. As of this morning, the post has 170 likes, 1111 comments, and 16 shares.

This idea is certainly in it's infancy. HCPSS is already planning a virtual commencement for graduating seniors in June with in-person celebrations set to occur at a later day. To adjust plans at this point, the school system, property owners, downtown Columbia organizations, and local businesses would all need to be looped in, supportive, and committed to taking immediate actions to begin turning this idea into a reality. Logistically, a reasonable staging area and car parade route would need to be established. Timing, safety, and scheduling measures would need to be organized to celebrate the approximately 4,000 Howard County seniors that are graduating. Sponsors and funding would need to be put in place. Arrangements would need to be made to allow those without access to a vehicle to participate. But, as social distancing requirements begin to ease, it seems like this could be a very special, memorable and socially-distant way to commemorate the graduating Class of 2020. Further more, it would bring community together (but not physically together!) in creating and organizing a fun celebration.


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