Evanston Township High School hosted six in-person commencement ceremonies for the Class of 2021 on May 21. The optional event, which was live-streamed on the ETHS YouTube channel, was held at the school’s Lazier Field. The ceremonies took place at 9 and 11 a.m. and 1, 3, 5, and 7 p.m. on a beautiful, warm, sunny day.

The 60-minute graduation programs accommodated students and their families in the safest way possible, which included physical distancing and wearing masks. Each senior received five tickets to gain access to the event.

“It was a great feeling. To just be here and celebrating is a great opportunity, and I won’t take it for granted,” graduate Adrian Cyrus told the RoundTable.

Adrian and fellow graduate Oren Davidson joined their families after receiving their diplomas at the first ceremony of the day.

 “I did not think that we were going to have a graduation in-person. This has been very nice. I’m very happy,” said Oren.

“Graduation from ETHS is perfect in the stadium. We have the perfect weather, and it’s just a great day to be a Wildkit!” said Ellen Donovan, ETHS Special Education Department, as she assisted graduates with check-in at the 11 a.m. ceremony.

“Class of 2021, you are a historic class,” said Superintendent Eric Witherspoon.

“Many of you have spent your entire year taking your classes remotely, and all of you have spent most of your senior year taking your classes remotely. Nobody wanted their senior year to be this way. I sure didn’t. But we all understood that this pandemic is a life and death matter. … Nonetheless, you’ve made the most of a terrible situation.

“You have attended your classes. You have applied yourselves academically. … You participated in extracurricular activities and sports whenever possible. Even though your participation required major adjustments and changes, you stuck with it. You’ve helped and encouraged your friends, your neighbors and your families. You’ve shown your appreciation for the unimaginable hard work your teachers, counselors, social workers, and all the staff here at ETHS have been doing to support you to make your senior year as successful as possible, even while their own lives have been so difficult because of this pandemic.

“What I really admire about the Class of 2021 is how you have all pulled together with a Wildkit spirit that is strong and determined. And even though this pandemic turned your world and ETHS upside down, you looked for and found the silver lining in your senior year. You made the best of a tumultuous year. In fact you’ve gone above and beyond to make many good things happen to complete your senior year with much success, and you can be very proud of yourselves.”

ETHS will virtually celebrate the graduating Class of 2021 at 10 a.m. today, May 23. The Virtual Commencement will also be live streamed on the ETHS YouTube channel and include additional music selections, speeches, and recognition of academic accomplishments.

Heidi Randhava is an award winning reporter who has a deep commitment to community engagement and service. She has written for the Evanston RoundTable since 2016.