Graduation celebration, pandemic-style

Wallace State holds drive-thru graduation celebration for Class of 2020

Cars lined up Thursday morning for Wallace State Community Colleges drive-thru graduation celebration for the Class of 2020. (Heather Mann for The Cullman Tribune)

HANCEVILLE, Ala. – Although the original graduation ceremony has been postponed to July 31, the faculty and staff at Wallace State Community College wanted to give the graduating class of 2020 a more immediate way to celebrate its achievements. A sudden plan was devised during the WSCC cabinet meeting Monday, and just three days of preparation led to the college’s first drive-thru graduation ceremony, held just outside the Center for Fine and Performing Arts Thursday. Graduates drove up to the building in a parade of decorated cars to receive their diploma covers, tassels and free Chick-fil-A sandwiches.

Preparations were made for 700 graduates, and the number of leftovers afterward indicated that roughly 400 graduates participated in the ceremony. Some graduates drove themselves, some rode with family (and in one case, both the mother and daughter were graduating together), while others rode with other students in a graduation carpool. In every case, WSCC President Dr. Vicki Karolewics said she could see the “community college story” told through every vehicle.

“We had so many cars come through, and you could really see the community college story in each one,” she smiled. “We had cars with parents, children, dogs, cars with dents, with windows that didn’t roll down, brand new cars… but in every car, there were smiles – smiles and tears.”

She said the “community college story” is all about making a difference.

“Graduation is a big deal to us, and our students deserve to celebrate the great things they’ve achieved,” said Karolewics. “Just like they make will make a difference in the world, they also make a difference here during their time at Wallace, so we wanted to make a difference for them and the community that supports them and us.”

A live stream of the event is posted on the WSCC Facebook page. The official 2020 Commencement ceremony will be held Friday, July 31 at 6 p.m. in the Tom Drake Coliseum. 

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Heather Mann