Some families not pleased that Crete-Monee High School will hold a pandemic-style graduation ceremony, and not because of public health concerns

CRETE, Ill. (CBS) – Most high schools across the state are gearing up for the first full, in-person graduation ceremonies in two years.

But that will not be happening at Crete-Monee High School in Will County. It’s holding a pandemic-style graduation anyway, even though COVID restrictions have been lifted.

CBS 2 Political Investigator Dana Kozlov spoke to some unhappy folks.

“She worked so hard for this,” said Ja-Niece Nelson.

Nelson’s daughter, Gabby, is set to graduate from Crete-Monee High School in one month. It is a huge milestone – especially after the last two pandemic-restrictive years.

However, no one but Gabby’s family will get to see her diploma. Unlike other high schools across the state, Crete-Monee High School decided to keep this year’s commencement ceremony quasi-virtual.

“Us as seniors have been through a lot, and I feel like this is something we deserve. We got a lot of our stuff taken away, because it’s just all the chaos that’s been going on with COVID at our school,” Gabby said, “and the one thing we really want, we’re not getting.”

The high school outlined its decision in a February newsletter to parents – explaining the students will get assigned a time to show up, walk into the high school with up to 40 family members, stand on an X for a picture, get another picture onstage, and walk off.

No other students will be present.

“It’s still the energy of having everyone in one place that you know, you can not get with three minutes that they get to walk from one destination to another,” Gabby’s mom said.

It’s similar to what Crete-Monee High did last year in the midst of pandemic protocols – except even then, there were virtual speeches. There is no indication that is happening this year.

“Since February, a lot of things have changed. A lot of restrictions have been removed,” said Ja-Niece Nelson. “So now my question is, well, why are we doing it?”

Crete-Monee High School District 201-U District spokeswoman Natalie Nash said the school had such a positive parent response to the 2021 graduation ceremony that they thought they’d do it the same way this year.

Health concerns were not the main reason.

Gabby said her entire English class even spoke up.

“We all decided to send it to our principal or whatever to see if something would change,” she said, “but it was already, it was like, ‘No, we’re not changing. This is what it’s going to be like for right now. ”

“I do not feel like our voice was taken into consideration,” added her mom.

Some parents like the idea, as is evident on a Facebook page. But spokeswoman Nash did admit administrators never asked parents or students what they wanted – saying perhaps a survey would have been in order.

She added that administrators have learned an important lesson.

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