McHenry drive in theater hosts in-car graduation for Big Hollow Middle School amid COVID-19 pandemic

MCHENRY, Ill. (WLS) -- The McHenry Outdoor Theater hosted a stay-in-car graduation ceremony for Big Hollow Middle School Tuesday evening.

COVID-19 has forced many to become accustomed to celebrating life's milestones from a safe social distance, but the pomp and circumstance was still appreciated.

"I guess it was pretty important because it's a turning point for our lives, and going to a much higher point in our lives, basically," said Chloe LaBuca, graduate.

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"It's going to be very different compared to other graduations," said graduate Braeden Carlson, but he did admit he didn't mind not having to get dressed up.

Heading into high school, it can be hard to have perspective.

"Kind of lonely, boring," assessed graduate Sammie Cruz.

But, for losing the last two months of middle school to a global pandemic, these 8th grade graduates are holding up OK.

"there was a period where I felt kind of hopeless, but so glad we're doing this," Cruz said.

The theater enforced the same limited capacity rules it has for Friday and Saturday night movies. No one was charged for admission.

Honking and decorated cars replaced whooping parents in the stands and elaborate signs, but even a pandemic and quarantine can't eradicate typical teenage feelings at a modified ceremony.

"Still pretty embarrassed, I guess," LaBuce said.

Their parents had big plans for this night.

"We usually do an awesome Friday night dance, we do a breakfast, we do a lunch," said Sessie Carlson, mom.

But the best laid plans have been long left behind. Tonight, they were just glad to celebrate at all.

"Since we couldn't do it the same, we just made sure to do it really, really different," Carson said.

Other schools from Big Hollow School District 38 will also hold modified graduation ceremonies at McHenry Outdoor Theater.
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