Danny Rock, principal of Vashon High School, beams for a selfie at the 2019 VHS graduation, never dreaming of the way a pandemic would disrupt education in 2020-2021. But this year, he’ll have another chance to return to gather with his cap-and-gowned students in a ceremony that seems closer to normal than the one that took place last year (Danny Rock Photo).

Danny Rock, principal of Vashon High School, beams for a selfie at the 2019 VHS graduation, never dreaming of the way a pandemic would disrupt education in 2020-2021. But this year, he’ll have another chance to return to gather with his cap-and-gowned students in a ceremony that seems closer to normal than the one that took place last year (Danny Rock Photo).

Class of 2021 Graduation Story Has A Happy Ending

“It’s been tough having our last year pass by on a computer screen,” said Chris Fontina.

  • Thursday, June 3, 2021 4:50pm
  • News

By Susan McCabe

For Vashon Island School District

Dreams really can come true.

Vashon High School’s (VHS) graduating class of 2021 can attest to that. After months of trepidation, alternative planning and pandemic switcheroos, there will be an in-person graduation ceremony for those students at VHS who spent the majority of their last high school year online.

But one 2020 pandemic hack will be back in 2021, despite relaxed COVID restrictions, and it’s likely to become an annual tradition — a car parade will be part of graduation day festivities, just as happened in 2020 when the parade was practically the whole show.

The Class of 2021 Car Parade will happen from 1 to 2:30 p.m. on June 12, with cars gathering at The Harbor School, 15920 Vashon Hwy SW. Principal Danny Rock and Vice-Principal Andrew Guss will take the lead in a big yellow school bus followed by family cars decked out in tribute to grads, with seniors waiving out the windows as they progress to the parade’s end at Vashon Roasterie. The road will not be closed, but revelers can park along the entire parade route to keep the celebration loud from start to finish. Voice of Vashon will broadcast the event live on 101.9FM and on voiceofvashon.org starting at 1 p.m.

The in-person commencement will happen outdoors at 6 p.m. in the VISD Football Stadium. Only those with tickets will be admitted to the private ceremony with a limit of four guests per graduate. Masks will be required regardless of vaccination status. While the campus will be closed to the public, the ceremony will be available for live viewing at 6 p.m. on visdtvcom.

A graduation night celebration planned by parents for seniors after their ceremony will begin at 8 p.m., with grads transported in buses (with social distancing) from the commencement ceremony to on-island venues. The festivities, planned with COVID safety in mind, will include live entertainment, music, food, games and campfires until approximately 3 a.m. — with a return trip to the high school where parents will pick up their seniors. (Parents will provide arrangements for off-island students or others who may have transportation challenges.)

The grad team’s parents have encouraged all seniors to get vaccinated ASAP to support safe graduation festivities and a safe community. Hans VanDusen is handling questions, concerns and requests — email Hans at hpvandusen@hotmail.com.

The graduation events on June 12 are the culmination of other celebrations that included the Vashon Community Scholarship Awards Ceremony on May 26. This year, the fund distributed $188,000 among 90 VHS graduating seniors. To find out more about the awards, visit vashonscholarshipfoundation.org.

Academic Awards were also announced in a June 2 ceremony. And on June 5, Prom will return, with seniors celebrating the end of their long and strange year on the Hiyu, a decommissioned ferry boat that sails the waters of Lake Union, Lake Washington and Puget Sound.

“We haven’t had much spirit or school fun this year with COVID… it’s been tough having our last year pass by on a computer screen,” said Senior Class Co-President Chris Fontina. “So, I hope we can all come together at the end and enjoy the night out on the boat.”

VHS Principal Danny Rock will also be cheering all the graduation goings-on.

“The class of 2021 has worked hard this year to stay engaged in their learning, give back to the VHS and Vashon Island community, and have shown what’s possible when you persist and choose hope in the face of every reason to quit,” said Rock. “I’m so proud of our VHS seniors this year and they deserve every ounce of celebration we can give them.”


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