High Five: The class of 2020!

Power Technical Academy administrators celebrated the class of 2020, including new graduates Nolan and Garrett Murdock, with surprise visits to their homes and yard signs. 

It’s hard to imagine that, last fall, any of the hundreds of high school and college seniors or final-year elementary and middle schoolers in the area, envisioned their studies and lives uprooted by a potentially fatal virus.

Colorado Springs schools closed their doors to academic learning in mid-March, taking with them a slew of milestone events and inevitably leaving a bit of disappointment. 

Nonetheless, institutions around the area rallied to honor their departing upperclassmen. Take, for example, Power Technical Academy, whose 13 graduates got a pleasant surprise and very visible send-off in May.

The school’s leadership team visited each graduate’s home and surprised them with a yard sign. The signs, which you may still be able to spy around the community, read “Power Tech Class of 2020 Senior.”

This year’s graduating class consisted of: Devon Baker, Joseph Blais, Elijah Candelario, Michael Dillard III, Jonathan Galicia, Kyle Kirk, Joshua Lusk, Garrett Murdock, Nolan Murdock, Timothy Swartz, Ivana Tandberg, Abigail Vancil and Kalani Willingham

Colorado Springs School District 11 and Harrison School District 2 both held creative and socially distant ceremonies for their students in May. Commencement festivities for the two districts are scheduled for June 23 and 24, and July 25, respectively. 

District 11 hosted virtual graduation ceremonies May 20 for Palmer and Mitchell high schools, while D-2 conducted drive-up ceremonies and broadcast them on Facebook Live. Sierra High School and the Career Readiness Academy welcomed a steady stream of student honorees on May 21; Harrison High School graduates rolled through their celebration on May 22. 

“I feel like a huge weight has been lifted off of my shoulders,” new Sierra grad Edith Ramos said May 21, after parading through a throng of cheering teachers, faculty, district administrators and board members to receive her diploma. “When I came here and saw all my teachers cheering for me, it made me want to cry.” 

The formal commencement schedule, subject to change depending on public health orders at the time, is as follows: 

• Palmer High School: 8 a.m. June 23 at Garry Berry Stadium, 2020 Glenn Summer Road. 

• Mitchell High School, 8 a.m. June 24 at Garry Berry Stadium, 2020 Glenn Summer Road.

• Harrison School District 2 schools: July 25 at UCHealth Park, 4385 Tutt Blvd.

The El Paso County Board of County Commissioners, El Paso County Health, local school districts and area hospitals requested on May 7 that the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment allow the county to host in-person graduation ceremonies. That permission was granted May 14, with a few provisos. 

The waiver emphasizes that students are encouraged to avoid vulnerable people for two weeks after their participation in a graduation, and that communications to the students should recommend that they don’t participate if a family member is considered vulnerable. 

Way to go, Southeast Colorado Springs graduates of 2020! Congratulations to each of you on this prestigious academic milestone, and know that we wish you the best of luck in the future, wherever your endeavors and dreams may lead you.  


To submit an item for the High Five, email a detailed description of the event, including date and location, and photos with identifying information from left to right to features@southeastexpress.org. For more information, call Regan Foster at 719-578-2802.



Founding Editor and General Manager Regan Foster holds dual bachelor's degrees in journalism and Spanish and a master's degree in journalism with specialization in political reporting and media management.