(Central Oregon Community College’s 2021 drive-thru “car-mencement” ceremony | Photo courtesy of Central Oregon Community College)
Prioritizing student, staff and community health, and building upon the successful precedent of last year’s drive-thru ceremony, Central Oregon Community College (COCC) will similarly hold its commencement this year as a drive-thru event. The ceremony is set for 9am on Saturday, June 11, at the college’s Bend campus.
“After overwhelmingly positive feedback from students, their families and many staff members — as well as out of an abundance of caution for everyone’s health and safety — COCC is pleased to share that this year’s ceremony will again take place as a drive-thru ‘car-mencement,’” said Alicia Moore, vice president of student affairs.
Graduates will be able to exit their vehicles, in turn, and receive their degree or certificate on stage. For social distancing and logistical purposes, graduates will be grouped into waves based upon their major, with faculty members asked to join during the times that coincide with their students’ arrival, a format that was well received last year.
“Every faculty’s effort was noticed as we drove from the beginning to the end, cheering and well wishes by all,” one graduate noted on COCC’s Facebook page after the 2021 ceremony. “I soaked it in and felt on top of the world for my accomplishment.”
The drive-thru design offers a chance for families and other supporters of graduates to closely celebrate the moment of each diploma conferral. “It was such a joy to watch our graduates cross the stage with their children, abuelas, spouses and the many others who helped them achieve their academic goals,” said Dr. Betsy Julian, vice president for instruction. “It was the highlight of last year for me, and for so many of our faculty.”
“As we’ve learned more than once during COCC’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, there can be surprising silver linings to the steps we take to keep our students and employees safe,” expressed Dr. Laurie Chesley, president of COCC. “The drive-thru commencement ceremony is one such silver lining. It may be a less formal day than COCC commencements of years past, but this creative format offers students and their loved ones an intimate, personal opportunity to celebrate their graduation.”
College officials have coordinated the event to occur only on campus roadways to avoid any congestion on College Way. Additional information about the ceremony, including the commencement speaker selection, will be announced in the coming months.