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From Minecraft To Virtual Reality, Schools Get Creative To Hold Graduation Ceremonies During Coronavirus Pandemic

NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Some schools are getting extra creative to hold graduation ceremonies during the coronavirus pandemic.

New Rochelle High School seniors knew COVID-19 would prevent them from having a traditional graduation ceremony, but that didn't stop senior Jake Egelberg and his classmates from creating a memorable one through the video game Minecraft.

"We kind of grew up with the game," said Egelberg in an interview with CBS2's Hazel Sanchez. "In a way, everything has come full circle because now we're graduating high school and we once again got into Minecraft and all played together building this project that allowed us to graduate in game."

Egelberg teamed with about 10 students, most from the school's science research program, and block by block created a virtual New Rochelle High School. Seniors and their families could log in to the virtual world for an unofficial graduation ceremony, which included live speeches from teachers, the class salutatorian and valedictorian.


Unconventional circumstances have sparked creativity across the country. There was a fast-paced graduation on a NASCAR track and a slow-and-steady one on a ski lift.

Here in the tri-state area, graduates from seven high schools in Rockland County are being recognized at Congers Lake Memorial Park, with a tribute path lined with their photos.

Seniors at Franklin High School in Somerset, New Jersey, will get a headset to graduate in a unique virtual reality experience. Eighth graders at High Mountain School in North Haledon Middle School were treated to a graduation parade.

"I thought it was a very cool idea," said Madeline Manning, an eighth grade graduate.

CORONAVIRUS: NY Health Dept. | NY Call 1-(888)-364-3065 | NYC Health Dept. | NYC Call 311, Text COVID to 692692 | NJ Health Dept. | NJ Call 1-(800)-222-1222 or 211, Text NJCOVID to 898211 | CT Health Dept. | CT Call 211

High Mountain High School principal Antonella Lind organized a caravan of teachers and a mobile LED screen showings of pictures and messages for the graduating class. The parade stopped by each students' house.

"So we wanted to make sure we celebrate, and then we thought of essentially bringing the stage to the students," said Lind.

"I was upset that I won't be able to have a real graduation because you only experience eighth grade once," said Bianca Aliana, an eighth grade graduate.

"But it's good that we still get to do something," said Liliana Cacciola, an eighth grade graduate.

And it's something they'll certainly never forget.

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