100th graduating WHS class to be live streamed

Jeff Guy
From left, 2020 Wellington High School graduates Mason Lough, Brittney Bentz and Michaela Wahington-Adkins stand together. Bentz and Washington-Adkins are graduating a year early.

Due to the ever changing health situation in the community, the school district has been advised by the local health department to change our current plans for graduation.

Wellington High School graduation will begin at 10am on Sunday, July 12. Seniors will be graduating individually with only their five ticket holders present. Groups of 10 students and their five ticket holders will be allotted a time to report to WHS. Those groups will be seated in the commons while waiting for their students' time. They will also be asked to adhere to social distancing guidelines.

The ceremony will be live streamed. People can access the link at:


Masks are highly recommended and the school will have some available.

“We understand the new graduation plan isn’t ideal and will most likely hinder plans that have been made by our Seniors and their families,” USD 353 Superintendent Adam Hatfield said in a statement to the public. “The 100th graduating class from Wellington High School will walk across the stage this weekend in an unconventional celebration that some in the class and the community feared would not get to take place.

The event will be live streamed. People can access the link at:


Michaela Washington-Adkins, a senior who is graduating a year early, said when the last nine weeks of school were cancelled, she wondered if graduation would be called off as well. Even in recent weeks with the spike in COVID-19 cases, she feared graduation would be cancelled.

Natalie Henning, another graduating senior, said, she is glad graduation was postponed for safety reasons.

“Safety and health are so important right now so it means a lot that we are taking health precautions while also honoring all of our hard work,” she said. “Thirteen years of hard work is something that shouldn’t go unnoticed and I’m glad they’re accommodating for that.”

Shelley Hansel, whose daughter, Elise LeGrand, will graduate, said, “At least those kids who’ve worked so hard for this will walk across the stage and receive a diploma.”

LeGrand will be receiving her diploma from her aunt Pat Zeka, president of the USD 353 Board of Education, and that’s important to her, Hansel said.

Hansel credited the school board and the community with promoting the graduates.

“This class hasn’t been starved for recognition,” Hansel said. “The community has really rallied for them and I know these kids feel loved. I think we’ve made the best of what was handed to us.”

Washington-Adkins said she feels grateful to have a graduation ceremony since some schools did cancel theirs.

Henning called the 2020 graduating class “resilient.”

“Many of my classmates have conquered life obstacles that many adults have yet to face whether it be the loss of a parent, a decline in mental health, illness or anything that might hinder one’s ability to succeed,” Henning said. “They’re still standing.”

Washington-Adkins said, “I definitely think the main thing I will remember is taking that risk of getting COVID-19 to get my diploma.”

She believes this year is significant.

“I think this graduation really signifies the year 2020, not only with the pandemic but racial injustices and deciding at our very young age where we stand.”

Henning summed up her feelings on the graduating class she has grown up with.

“I love all of my classmates despite the differences we may have had over the years,” she said. “I want all of them to succeed and I always have. It’s all been very memorable and bittersweet.”