Parents and teachers pull out the stops to ensure memorable graduations for Class of 2020

Seniors find creative alternatives for graduation
Seniors find creative alternatives for gradua... 02:50

Last Updated May 15, 2020 7:24 PM EDT

When Gabrielle Pierce's graduation got canceled, her dad, Torrence Burson, was almost as upset as she was. "It really just broke my heart, but what do you do?," Torrence said.  

He thought of something.  

"I think I did," Torrence laughed. "I said, 'Well, I guess we have to do it in the driveway.'" 

So right there, where they usually park the Chevy, Torrence graduated his daughter from Xavier University of Louisiana — on a rented stage and podium — in front of friends, family and passing motorists.

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Torrance Burson making a graduation for his daughter, Gabrielle.  Gabrielle Pierce

Gabrielle says it was definitely not the graduation she envisioned, but still everything she dreamed.

"I think it was better than the regular one," Gabrielle said. 

Could you imagine that being possible just a few weeks ago? 

"No, not at all," she said.

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Torrence Burson and Gabrielle Pierce Gabrielle Pierce

And that's just one of many small miracles we're starting to see across the country — disappointed graduates discovering pomp and silver linings — as schools get creative with banner tributes and parade graduations.  Others are planning drive-in graduations and even one whiz-by graduation.

Here in Indianapolis, it's cap and ... gone.

The speedway is hosting a ceremony where kids can cruise the track in their own vehicles,  presumably at a reasonable speed — and pick up their diploma on the way out.

"It's not the memories they thought they were going to have, but it's something different and unique that they'll probably remember forever," said Scott Kummrow, the band direct at Fergus Falls High School in Minnesota.

Here he is playing for his high school's virtual graduation — all 22 parts. It took Scott two full days to make this video for his students.

And it's educators like him — and parents like these — who are pulling out all the stops to make this a graduation to remember.

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Gabrielle Pierce Gabrielle Pierce

And so it's our hope, that when these graduates look back in hindsight at 2020, they won't dwell on what was lost but what was found, and what was left completely unaffected — moments, like this one.

"Very proud.  A father couldn't be much prouder than I am right now of my daughter Gabrielle," Torrence said.


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  • Steve Hartman
    Steve Hartman

    Steve Hartman has been a CBS News correspondent since 1998, having served as a part-time correspondent for the previous two years.