Class of 2021 graduates

Chad Frey
The Kansan
Members of the Newton High School Class of 2021 receive a standing ovation for "defeating COVID-19" their junior and senior years of high school. Graduation ceremonies were hosted at Hartman Arena in Park City in part to deal with COVID-19 concerns.

The largest graduating class in the history of Newton High School walked across the graduation stage May 22, in a new place thanks to COVID-19. 

The class of 2021 was the first class in NHS history to host ceremonies at a location other than Fischer Field or the high school. More than 250 students received diplomas during a ceremony at Hartman Arena in Park City. 

The arena was chosen, months ago, in order for planners and high school staff to have only one place to plan a ceremony for — traditionally the ceremony was at Fischer Field in Athletic Park, but moved to the high school in the case of rain. According to principal Caleb Smith, in order to observe social distancing guidelines for COVID-19, the high school was not a usable alternative in the case of rain. 

Members of the NHS class of 2021 observe the traditional turning of the tassel during graduation ceremonies May 22.

To members of the class of 2021, it was just another "first."

"There have been a lot of first to take place in our class," said student body president Eli Redington. "There have been a lot of roadblocks that we have had to overcome, not just this year, but over many years." 

The class of 2021 was the first sixth-grade class to use Chromebooks in a one-to-one environment in middle school. The class was also the first to have access to Ag Academy, This is also the first graduating class for Smith, and superitendent Fred Van Rankin. 

"One of the recent firsts we have had is being able to perform in front of a live audience for band, and to sit [in Hartman Arena] today," Redington said. 

More than 250 members of the Newton High School Class of 2021 received their diplomas during a ceremony at Hartman Arena May 22.

COVID-19 concerns, and the adjustments made by the school district during the past year, were discussed openly during commencement ceremonies. Those discussions drew a standing ovation for the class of 2021. 

"The class of 2021 took on, and defeated, a global pandemic in their junior and senior years. For that they deserve a standing ovation," Smith said during his opening remarks of the ceremony. 

Members of the Newton Class of 2021 exit Hartman Arena to greet their families outside following graduation ceremonies.