100th commencement goes virtual

Photo by Lauren Ebben

By Lauren Ebben, Editor-in-Chief

As the days tick closer to the end of the semester, Amarillo College prepares for its historic 100th commencement ceremony, made all the more special by its status as AC’s first virtual graduation, according to college officials. The ceremony will be held Thursday, May 21 at 7 p.m.

Sadie Newsome, AC media director leading the event, said that while the ceremony will be different this year, it will have elements familiar to traditional in person ceremonies. 

“Our goal is to make it personal and meaningful,” she said.

According to Newsome, graduates can expect the ceremony to still be hosted by Dr. Russell Lowery-Hart, AC president, as well as a performance by staff and students of the AC music department and the announcement of the 2020 Mead Faculty Excellence Award winner among other things. This year the ceremony will also include several public figures as special guests.

For the presentation of the graduates, students who ordered caps and gowns were asked to submit pictures of themselves wearing their regalia, as well as a personal quote or thank you regarding their time as AC, to use in a slide show viewed during the ceremony. 

Newsome said more than 650 students ordered caps and gowns for the event, and hundreds have submitted content.

“I think students really showed their personalities in their quotes and photos,” she said. “It’s going to be fun looking at how people view this ceremony.”

According to Newsome, the ceremony will be streamed live on several platforms, including the AC website, Facebook, Panhandle PBS and several local news stations. A recording of the stream will also be available later on for people who were not able to watch the live event.

Our goal is to make it personal and meaningful

Sadie Newsome, AC media director

“This will be a very personal celebration of our students, featuring their words and their images,” Lowery-Hart said in a news release. “I’m so proud of our graduates and I encourage each and every one of them, their families, and our entire community to join us for this unprecedented virtual celebration.”

Hector Casanova, SGA president and a member of the spring graduating class, said he thinks this ceremony is an important hallmark for the community.

“It means 100 times our college has seen ambitious, professional and community-minded graduates take to better serve the people of the community and beyond,” he said.  “This ceremony will be an example of how much AC cares about the quality of its students and, more importantly, recognizing their hard work.”

For Newsome, this 100th ceremony is a “testament to the history of AC and the growth and future of the college.”

The college was established in 1929, shortly before the start of the Great Depression, which was a time of uncertainty for many institutions of higher education, according to Newsome. Despite the troubles in the world at the time, the college remained in session.

“Having that in our history should really encourage people in our confidence in overcoming anything that comes our way,” Newsome said.

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