Graduations return to the Toyota Center for RSD and KSD

RICHLAND, Wash. – High schools in the Richland and Kennewick School Districts are celebrating graduations this weekend at the Toyota Center in Kennewick, and after these last few years of unconventional graduations at their respective sporting arenas.

Pasco School District schools are continuing the tradition of graduating from Edgar Brown Memorial Stadium.

According to a spokesperson for the Richland School District, their graduations are returning to the same format as prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Toyota Center is not permitting balloons during graduation.

For high school seniors, this is bound to be an emotional time; leaving the place they’ve called home for four years.

“It’s a little sad, bittersweet, but I’m ready to be done,” said Kiayah McMahon, a Hanford High School senior.

Hanford senior Augustin Dulauroy said, “I’m gonna miss the people, you know, just interacting with people in the classroom, and yeah, that’s what I’m gonna miss mostly.”

While they head to graduation on June 10, it appears that the graduation will be back to normal. The Toyota Center has not hosted a high school graduation since 2019.

“Anytime we can go back to things that we did prior to COVID I’m all for it,” said Hanford High School principal, Tory Christensen.

“They get to walk across the stage of the Toyota Center. So we’re really excited about that and just glad to be back,” said Christensen. “These seniors—the last time they were in regular, you know, ‘all-times-school year’ was their freshman year.”

Looking back on their four years in high school, these seniors haven’t experienced anything conventional…

“I’m really happy of the choices I made when I was in high school, and the people I became friends with and the classes I took,” said Kiayah.

“I’m glad that I can look back and not regret having not done something,” said Augustin.

…but it looks like they wouldn’t have it any other way.

Kiayah said, “If I could go back, I wouldn’t change anything.”

“Really, I think as you graduate from high school, it’s just the beginning for you. Hence the name ‘commencement.’ We’re commencing on the rest of our lives,” Christensen concluded with. “And I think as students, take what they’ve learned up to this point, use that, go forward and serve others and help others. I think everybody will have a very good future.”

READ: ‘Very grateful’: Parents, students react to in-person graduation announcements