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Valley seniors prepare for 2021 graduation season

 New California Department of Public Health guidelines state commencement ceremonies for 2021 graduations can allow in-person attendees with limited capacities.

While graduates in 2020 experienced virtual and drive-by ceremonies, high school hope this year will allow them a more normal ceremony.

It was about this time last year that COVID-19 wiped out many graduation ceremonies. This is year valley school districts are hoping to  hold in-person commencements. 

News Channel 3’s Dani Romero has more on  what some families say in-person ceremonies mean to them. 

A La Quinta High School senior explained that finishing her last year during a pandemic was nothing short of a struggle. 

“It definitely has been hard," said Unica Lawson. "I am very social and I like to get out there and really like to be there around my friends and I used to see them everyday at school and walk home after school with them.” 

Things are about to change for Lawson, she’ll be going back on campus four days a week starting Monday. 

There’s another surprise for seniors.

“We actually get to see our seniors cross the stage this year under certain safety protocol and thats going to feel great," said Scott Bailey, Superintendent for Desert Sands Unified School District.

Last year, many valley graduations were celebrated through a drive-up ceremony. 

Now, Desert Sands Unified School District will be celebrating with our seniors this year as they will graduate in keeping with their school traditions. Graduations for the four traditional high schools will be on the football fields. the three non-traditional high schools will also be holding in-person ceremonies.

"I get a little nervous so I hope I don’t trip over my feet or something," said Lawson."I am very happy I am able to have a regular graduation and walk across the stage.” 

Lawson’s mom has waited four years for this moment. 

“I am grateful she gets some type of normalcy," said Atiyana Lawson.

A spokesperson for Palm Springs Unified School District told News Channel 3 each of their high schools will be doing some sort of in-person ceremony but details are not  finalized. 

The Coachella Valley Unified School District is still in the planning process and will inform their families in the coming weeks.

Lawson is hoping to narrow down her guest list. 

“For now it will be me, Unica’s little sister and I might be inviting my mom," said Lawson. "We're excited to see her graduate.” 

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Dani Romero

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