WAUKEGAN, Ill. (WLS) -- They are putting the final touches on the stage before Wednesday night's graduation in the football stadium for Waukegan High School.
After a school year that has been anything but normal, graduating senior Dan Contreras is looking forward to an in-person graduation ceremony.
"We were all able to overcome the challenges this year and let it bring out the best in us," said Contreras.
Contreras, who is senior class president, is also a graduation speaker and he will have to give the speech three different times. That's because in order to allow for social distancing, the school is splitting the class into three ceremonies in three days. In previous years they have been able to fit everyone inside the stadium at once.
"We are excited because we haven't seen families and we' be only seen the students on zoom, so it's nice to see them in person," said Principal Tim Bryner.
The Now Center in Hoffman Estates is home to graduation for a number of other area schools, including Lake Park on Thursday.
Two years ago the school graduated more 600 students inside. They originally planned this year's ceremony in the parking lot, but thanks to relaxed state guidelines, they are now planning the graduate the full class with each student allowed up to six guests in the huge arena.
"I'm definitely happy to have a graduation because last year wasn't a proper graduation," said Elise Fulmer, a graduating senior.
"People really wanted the students to be able to graduate as one class... really grateful," said superintendent Jeff Feucht.
One twist in Waukegan: While the seating is separated for social distancing, each seat is in a pod so the graduate can sit with his or her guests to celebrate this momentous occasion.
Waukegan High Schools move forward with in-person graduation