Rifle High School graduation: Honoring their wishes, with a promise kept

More than 130 days after their last day classes, Rifle High School seniors gathered one more time determined to make their final walk as Bears

Lyliah Powers recieves a big hug from her dad DJ Ridgeway after she walked during the final of three graduation ceremonies Saturday in Rifle. After months of waiting Rifle High School held their in-person graduation ceremony using guidelines set by the county and the state.
Kyle Mills / Citizen Telegram
Parents and family members watch from grandstand during Saturday’s graduation ceremonies at Rifle High School’s Bear Stadium. Approximately 150 of the 171 members of the Class of 2020 participated in the event.
Kyle Mills / Citizen Telegram
Rifle High School graduate Levi Warfel is all smiles after receiving his diploma Saturday during the final of three ceremonies held at Bear Stadium.
Kyle Mills / Citizen Telegram
After months of waiting members of the Rifle High School Class of 2020 move their tassels from the right side to the left of their caps signifying they are officially graduated.
Kyle Mills / Citizen Telegram
Garfield School District Re-2 staff disinfects and clean the seats for graduates after the first of three ceremonies at Bear Stadium Saturday in Rifle.
Kyle Mills / Citizen Telegram

For Rifle High School Principal John Arledge Saturday was a moment that he and the staffed had hoped for, but they just weren’t sure if it was ever going to happen as the coronavirus pandemic continues to linger in Garfield County.

“When COVID first hit there was a lot of talk about not having graduation at all across not just our state but the nation. I think a lot of schools elected at the very beginning to either do a virtual one or none at all,” Arledge said. “I met with a group of our seniors and I asked them do you want to do a virtual one or do you want to hold out for longest date possible to have a graduation. They unanimously said lets hold out, so we picked today July 25, because I go back to work on Monday for the start of the new school year.”

The overcast and cool conditions of late July didn’t dampen the spirits of approximately 150 of the 171 members of Rifle High Schools Class of 2020. After months of waiting and anticipation of an in-person graduation, seniors made the long awaited walk across the stage to receive their diploma Saturday at Bear Stadium.

Abiding by county guidelines of physical distancing, limiting the numbers of people in attendance, and disinfecting the seating in between events, Rifle High School held three consecutive ceremonies Saturday to honor the Class of 2020.

Saturday was an extra special day for Lyliah Powers as she celebrated her birthday with her classmates and family.

“It’s really cool, it’s definitely an experience I wouldn’t have gotten if we hadn’t waited. I just thought it was really neat to turn 18 on graduation day,” Powers said.

For more from Rifle High Schools graduations see Thursday’s edition of the Citizen Telegram.

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