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Exhibit Pays Tribute to Santa Cruz High Students’ Pandemic Graduation

Exhibit highlights students of the class of 2020

One of the class of 2020 Santa Cruz High School graduates poses at their “drive-in” senior celebration. PHOTO: NICK MORRIS

A new interactive exhibit honors the class of 2020 graduates from Santa Cruz High School and what they went through during the pandemic. 

The exhibit, called “Hats Off to Santa Cruz Grads,” includes photos and editorials collected by alumni Nick Morris and will be showcased at the Santa Cruz Art League June 17-July 24.

“I want people to take away how our young people were able to be resilient and still have a smile on their face even after going through a really sucky senior year that was nothing like they expected,” says Morris, 28. 

The exhibit will showcase photographs Morris took while the students of the class of 2020 had a “drive-in” senior celebration. He snapped pictures of the graduating students and their families during the senior celebration, which was held in vehicles on campus last summer. 

“Even though they were in their cars and couldn’t get out, they all came in caps and gowns and made an effort to make it a meaningful celebration,” says Morris. 

PHOTO: NICK MORRIS

After the student celebration, Morris was inspired to interview students and record the stories that went along with the faces and moments captured in the photos. 

“They shared their stories from their heart,” Morris says. He says he only meant to take a few shots to document history, but after being swept up in the emotions of the celebration he chose to do more for the class of 2020. 

“It’s a really unique circumstance that they were in, but how they handled it should be an inspiration to everyone,” Morris says. 

Along with Morris’ photos, the exhibit features personal stories from the graduating students about their senior year experience during the coronavirus pandemic and video, audio, and tactile displays from their graduation celebration.

“It was so uncertain when they left school that they never had the opportunity to say goodbye to their peers,” says Morris. 

PHOTO: NICK MORRIS

Through the exhibit, he wants to show the historical significance of graduating during a pandemic but, above all, he hopes it will be an opportunity for closure for the Santa Cruz High grads.

The exhibit is free and open to the public, but reservations are required due to a 12-person limit in the space. Learn more and reserve your spot at scal.org/plan-your-visit.

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