These days, you can’t miss the house on the block in which a high school graduate lives. Inevitably, there are yard signs out front or balloons or giant letters spelling out the students name.
It’s the fashionable trend, throwing a watch party to celebrate a milestone for kids like Ronniecia Brown, who’s graduating from Hallandale High School but can’t have the traditional walk across the stage. The virtual graduation will have to do.
“I’m kind of sad about it, I couldn't go to prom with my friends or experience a real graduation but I’m not dwelling on it, I feel like I’ll have better moments in the future,” Ronniecia said at her house in Plantation.
The front yard is festooned with signs and in the living room, there are balloons and class of 2020 decorations and pictures of Ronniecia everywhere you look.
“This day means everything to me, this is my only child, I am more than proud of her and I’m excited to celebrate today,” said Ronniecia’s mom, Dana Tomlinson.
Adding to the celebration today was a surprise visit from the Broward Education Foundation, which awarded Ronniecia a $1,000 college scholarship.
“I am just amazed at how well these graduates have handled the fact that they’ve been thrust into the midst of uncharted territory and they’ve risen to the occasion,” said Ronniecia’s grandmother, Colleen Gutzmore.
While students and families were watching their screens at home, Hallandale High School’s principal and administrative staff were at the school, watching from the front office and thinking about how their students can take advantage of this moment in history.
“Let’s not look at the downside of this but let’s look at this as an opportunity to do some great things and be innovative,” said principal Mark Howard in a message directed at his graduating students.
Beyond just putting the kids’ pictures up on the screen, Broward County Public Schools added an augmented reality component. Through an app, kids can dance with Flo Rida or receive their diplomas directly from superintendent Robert Runcie.
The high school diploma is the first step in Ronniecia’s goal to become a physician.
“We’re gonna miss her but like I said, I think Ronniecia’s ready for the next phase in her life and she’s going to do well,” Tomlinson said.