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Curbside drive-up graduation in Portsmouth sends off hundreds of high school graduates

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Posted at 2:35 PM, Jun 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-23 17:17:52-04

PORTSMOUTH, Va. - COVID-19 is having a serious impact on the way the class of 2020 is graduating.

Tuesday morning, students at I.C. Norcom High School in Portsmouth walked on stage and received their diplomas. It was different than the traditional graduation, but there were many happy teenagers and smiling faces.

Nysia Jones joins her fellow cheerleaders after receiving her diploma. It was a big day for the 16-year-old, who is heading to Norfolk State after graduating early.

“It was overwhelming thinking if we were going to be able to walk on stage. The turnout here today, it’s exciting,” said Jones.

As a member of the National Honor Society and captain of the cheer team, Jones is one of more than 300 students to graduate Tuesday.

“The excitement here is fantastic. At first, we didn’t know if we were going to offer the students anything; then they came up with the idea of curbside drive-through. Parents are enjoying it,” said Elie Bracy, the Portsmouth Public Schools Superintendent.

Bracy said each family was allowed to have one car in the caravan. They drove up to the front of the stage, and then the student got out and walked up to receive their diploma.

“They were creative. We told them they can bring one vehicle. Some rented a pickup truck, some rented limousines. It’s exciting to see the creativity in it all,” said Bracy.

Related: High school graduation procession moves through historic downtown Williamsburg

There are two more curbside graduations next week in Portsmouth. Wilson High School holds a drive-up graduation on Wednesday, June 24, and Churchland High School’s event is Thursday, June 25.

Jones said she has been working a lot over the last few months.

“It was more of a realization of what the real world would be like,” said Jones. “Every day you get up go to work and come back home. It’s the same thing every day.”

Now, she is headed off the college.

She is the youngest of four children, and her mom is proud.

“I’m excited she’s going to go to college. At first, we didn’t know if it was going to happen, but they’re going to let them go, so I’m excited for her,” said Sonja Jones.

“It’s been a difficult time. We’re just trying to bring some sense of normalcy to the situation,” said Bracy.

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