While the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the traditional pomp and circumstance of graduation, Minnesota State Community and Technical College will celebrate the 724 graduates of the class of 2020, with 154 from M State Wadena, in an online graduation celebration on June 25, according to an M State news release.

"While we couldn’t hold traditional on-campus graduation ceremonies this spring, M State wants to honor, celebrate and acknowledge the Class of 2020,” said the college's dean of student affairs Shawn Anderson in the release. “Many of our students have juggled competing priorities and had their lives turned upside down by the coronavirus pandemic, but they persevered to complete their degrees.”

The video celebration will have submitted photos and quotes from the graduates along with a performance of “Sisi ni moja” ("We are one") by members of the M State Concert Choir under the direction of M State choral instructor Laura Quaintance and accompanied and edited by music instructor David Stoddard.

“Through Zoom meetings, online rehearsals, and audio and video submissions, students recorded their individual parts from the safety of their homes,” Quaintance said in the release. “M State music faculty edited the work to create this virtual performance of a fitting message amidst the time: Though we were apart, ‘we are one.’”

The celebration will also include brief remarks from M State President Carrie Brimhall and the college’s vice president of academic and student affairs John Maduko along with greetings from Minnesota’s United States Senator Amy Klobuchar and diplomat, educator and author Patrick Mendis. Mendis is a Perham High School graduate who attended M State in 1984 and recently represented the U.S. State Department at the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, according to the release.

In mid-June, graduates will be mailed a “virtual celebration package” with their official diploma and a padded diploma cover. A celebration program will be available online to save or print.

“We hope the M State community will come together and recognize these students,” Brimhall said in the release. “Graduating from college is always a great accomplishment, and this year it’s an even bigger accomplishment. M State staff and faculty are so very proud of all our graduates.”

The celebration does not replace a traditional graduation ceremony. In a survey earlier this spring, graduates shared the importance of having the opportunity to walk across a stage to receive their diplomas. Members of M State’s class of 2020 will have the chance to walk during a future graduation ceremony in December 2020 or May 2021, according to the release.

How to watch

What: Online M State graduation celebration

When: Thursday, June 25 at 7 p.m.

Where: A link to the celebration will be available on the college website at https://www.minnesota.edu/class-of-2020

The video will continue to be available after June 25.