Family Arena holds high school graduation ceremony with social distancing rules in place


ST. CHARLES, Mo. – The Family Arena in St. Charles hosted its first high school graduation Friday night in the middle of the pandemic. It looked a lot different from past graduations.

“I have a mask for later if I feel unsure but I feel pretty safe,” said Salutatorian Raegan Boettcher, Troy Buchanan High School.

Just over 420 students from Troy Buchanan were graduating Friday.

“I am grateful that we get to be here,” said Lauren Fast, whose son was in the graduating class. “Family came from out of town and everyone’s super excited to share it.”

Graduates didn’t shake hands when they received their diploma. Families were seated away from others. Students were kept six feet apart.

“(It’s) worth it because they didn’t have to let us have a graduation here and I’m very thankful for that,” said graduate Aby Higgins.

It was also different musically.

“Unfortunately, our band and our choir won’t be here to perform,” said Principal Brian Brown. “Some of the music will be done digitally.”

Everyone had their temperature checked before entering the building.

“I’m kind of nervous because I don’t know if everyone’s going to follow the guidelines,” said graduate Emilee Harris.

The Family Arena staff spent many cumulative hours preparing for the event.

“We’ve been working on this 6 to 8 weeks,” said Tom O’Keefe, an arena employee.

Among other things, they doubled the number of hand sanitizers, people were required to travel one way on the concourse. The air conditioning was not recycled; 100 percent fresh air all the time.

“We will have entirely new air in the building every 3 to 5 minutes,” O’Keefe said.

Twenty more graduations are scheduled in the days ahead.

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