Benson High is finding alternative ways to honor the Class of 2020 due to the coronavirus, including hanging banners of the seniors at the school.

It is no surprise to anyone in our community, state, and country that the recent circumstances surrounding Covid-19 has altered the ‘normalcy’ of our daily events. This has disrupted many of our annual activities and, sadly, is even affecting our beloved traditions. This ‘disruption’ is definitely evident in schools from kindergarten through 12th grades and even in colleges and universities.

Students around the country have seen massive changes to their educational systems, transforming classroom learning to teacher prepared educational packets and home-based online meetings. Not only has the closure of schools affected the traditional system of learning but it has affected the ‘grand finale’ of education – promotions and graduations.

The Benson Schools are unquestionably strong when it comes to tradition, holding fast to its roots and principles. This year, however, one of its most revered traditions – high school graduation – has been put in jeopardy due to the events surrounding Covid-19.

Benson High School, however, is not the only school affected but is only one of thousands in Arizona and the United States that is experiencing this altering in their final tradition – the celebration of sending off the graduating seniors into the world with the pomp and circumstance so fitting their past 12 years of work. It was with this in mind that the Benson High School office administration rallied together to form plans to help make it possible to honor the graduating class of 2020 in a non-traditional traditional way.

“Our hands are tied when it comes to having a traditional graduation ceremony due to Covid-19 restrictions,” Benson High School assistant principal Tad Jacobson said. “Everyone wants what our seniors want, a traditional graduation, but that’s just not possible right now.”

With this in mind, the administration began extensive brainstorming to come up with a plan to make some form of a graduation for the class of 2020 possible. “We collaborated as a team to come up with ideas that would make this special for our seniors,” Benson High School principal Jeff Thompson said.

“We worked on concepts that were creative but different from the normal picture of a graduation. With this said, I think we came up with some unique ideas that will definitely help our seniors (and their families) take away positive memories to end their high school years and their graduation.”

One of the many ideas that came to be through the collaboration of the high school administration was the individual banners that were made for each senior and can be seen in front of the high school on the east end of campus. The banners will be presented to each of the seniors as a gift from the school on the day of their graduation.

A virtual ‘drive thru’ graduation ceremony will take place in the parking lot west of the athletic field on Stadium Road. Additional information is available online — on the schools’ Facebook page and on the school web page. Graduation times — San Pedro Valley High School ceremony at 6:00PM on Friday, May 22nd; Benson High School ceremony at 7:00PM on Friday, May 22nd. Additionally, graduation will be available to watch on the school’s YouTube channel. Anyone can subscribe for free at And, with the required 1000 subscribers already noted through the efforts of many volunteers and Facebook posts, the Benson graduation 2020 will definitely be aired.

“We know this isn’t perfect,” Principal Thompson said, “but we still want it to be memorable. Yes, we did not expect this but we are all trying to make the best of it – and to send our seniors into the world with a non-traditional graduation ceremony they and their families will always remember.”

So as high schools and colleges and universities around the country (and the world) are grappling with how to honor their soon to be alumni, Benson is ‘on track for the future’ of their graduation 2020.

And memorable it will be. No other class in the 105 years of Benson High School graduations has ever had a sendoff of this caliber. Definitely unique, definitely not what anyone expected as the school entered its fourth quarter 9 weeks prior to graduation – but it will definitely be unforgettable.

“We have a few more surprises in store that we hope will make a positive impact on everyone as we say goodbye to our class of 2020 graduates,” high school counselor and Benson High School alumni Kristy Reynolds said. “Those are top secret!”

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