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Curtain Call

Bellefonte Class of 2020 takes part in tassel turn and cap toss

CHRIS MORELLI/THE EXPRESS Top, Bellefonte Area High School class president Natalie Book, left, demonstrates the tassel turn to her fellow classmates on Friday at Rogers Stadium. Giving instructions is graduation coordinator Edward Fitzgerald. Bottom, graduates of Bellefonte’s Class of 2020 pose with their mortar boards at midfield at Rogers Stadium on Friday morning.

BELLEFONTE — Bellefonte Area High School put a bow on its Class of 2020 graduation celebrations as approximately 100 students took part in a tassel turn and cap toss ceremony that was closed to the public on Friday morning at Rogers Stadium.

Last Friday, the district held a “drive through” ceremony at the high school in which students drove up with their families, had their names announced, received their diplomas and posed for photos. This ceremony was short, but sweet. The seniors who took part had a chance to show off their decorated mortar boards before tossing them skyward.

In addition to the students, a handful of administrators took part in the ceremony. Graduation coordinator Edward Fitzgerald kept things moving and class president Natalie Book demonstrated the tassel turn.

Within minutes, the ceremony was over. Students posed for photos and said their goodbyes.

Senior Mallorie Smith, a three-sport star at Bellefonte, talked about being a graduate as she walked off the Rogers Stadium turf for the final time.

“It hasn’t really hit me yet. To think that I’m done with high school is really weird to think about. College is just a few months away,” said Smith, who is headed to Penn State-Altoona to play soccer in the fall.

Schools around the Commonwealth have been closed since mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As the closure dragged on, it appeared that the districts might not be able to have any type of ceremony. However, once Centre County turned yellow, that opened up some opportunities for students to be recognized.

“I’m glad that they could at least say our names as we walked across a stage. It might not have been ‘the stage’ that we were all thinking about, but to hear my name get called, my awards and to be in front of my family … that meant a lot,” Smith said.

The district did a series of graduation videos that were posted to the district’s website and its YouTube channel. Those featured speeches from district administrators as well as students.

Class of 2020 valedictorian Elizabeth Hargrove had a speech that was featured in the video.

“It eliminated some of the jitters because if you mess up you can always do it again,” Hargrove said of the video. “There were less people watching you (record) so it feels like you have a smaller audience.”

Hargrove said that all things considered, she was pleased that the district was able to have the “drive through” ceremony followed by Friday’s tassel turn and cap toss.

“I liked it. It seemed much more personal. My entire family was able to come up and get a picture on the stage, which was really nice,” Hargrove said.

Smith, who had an orientation with Penn State University via Zoom on Friday, said that she’s ready for the next phase of her life.

“I think I’m definitely ready. The teachers here helped me prepare myself,” said Smith, who is majoriing in biology. “I feel like I’m ready to take on anything.”

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