MANHATTAN, Kan. (KSNT) – Class of 2020 graduate Robert Zhang will move on to his next chapter of life as a Jayhawk at the University of Kansas in a few weeks.
Before he heads off to Lawrence, he was able to say a final goodbye to the place he spent his last four years, Manhattan High School.
“I feel good. Just like most people, they just want to get out of their house and experience the world,” Zhang said.
Manhattan High’s senior class was able to return back to their high school to receive their diplomas, take pictures and hear their name called – a sound signifying that they finally did it.
“It’s just another chapter of my life done, just ready to move on,” Zhang said.
This was on the exact day the Manhattan-Ogden USD 383 School District had originally planned to have their in-person graduation.
“Everything changed for them just in an instant, and a lot of things that they normally would have to celebrate during their senior year just weren’t able to happen. They didn’t have a senior prom, they didn’t have those last days of school that you would normally have,” said Karla Hagemeister, board president for the school district.
Students who attended also received a graduation gift of four free books from the Manhattan Public Library.
“It’s also really hard for people to get to the library right now, and we recognize that, especially for kids and teens with scheduling and transportation, they may not be able to just come and borrow books. So we want them to be able to just have books so that they can still read during the summer,” said Grace Benedick, teen service librarian at Manhattan Public Library.
Despite this crazy year, the school’s leaders hope this day gave the students closure, Hagemeister said.
“For a lot of our seniors this may be the last time that they got to come back into the building and be here one more time,” Hagemeister said.
The event was originally scheduled to end at 4 p.m., but ended up running long so that every student could experience the special moment.