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Graduations begin, next stop is the future (Photo gallery, Video)



Seniors from five CMSD high schools donned their caps and gowns Tuesday to receive their diplomas at drive-up ceremonies.  

The graduations were the first of 32 that will be held through Wednesday, June 24. Gov. Mike DeWine set strict guidelines for school districts to stop the spread of COVID-19, including reducing the number of people gathered in one room. CEO Eric Gordon had to make the difficult decision to forgo the traditional ceremony.   

“Our team has been working very hard to make it as special as we can,” said Gordon, who has promised that this year's 2,300 graduates will receive a conventional ceremony when that becomes possible.   

The drive-up ceremonies being held at Max S. Hayes High School and East Professional Center include a short program that is live streamed into cars through social media. Graduates' names are then called as they ride or drive up in a vehicle to the cheers of school and District staff.  

Gordon says this year’s graduations are extra special for him because these students were in kindergarten when he started working in the District 13 years ago.  

“Our students have been fantastic,” he said. “This is not what they wanted. This is not what I wanted. But when the students have gone through the processional, they have had just joy on their faces.”  

Many graduates decorated their cars with balloons and signs of congratulation.   

For Angel Rivera, a James Ford Rhodes graduate, this is the first time he’s seen many of his classmates since the statewide closure of schools in March.

“I am super excited,” said Rivera, who will attend Tri-C in the fall. “It was a goal (to graduate high school). And now that it is finally here, I am happy.”  

At East Professional Center, more than 100 Cleveland School of Science and Medicine grads drove up in vehicles to receive their diplomas.  

Kayla Randle decorated her cap with a Bible verse: “God is within her, she will not fall."  

“I am blessed that we were still able to do something like this to celebrate us,” said Randle, who plans to major in nursing at Cleveland State University. “This is a really big deal to get your diploma and graduate."  

Besides, the James Ford Rhodes and Cleveland School of Science Medicine, graduations also were held for Max S. Hayes High school, the Cleveland Early College High School and the Cleveland School of Architecture and Design.

After each ceremony, the graduation can be viewed on the CMSD YouTube page. 

To see a schedule of graduations and live stream the ceremonies, go to or