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Kirtland comes together, celebrates Class of 2020 amid COVID-19

Graduates toss their caps in the air.

Graduates toss their caps in their air on Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico, May 21, 2020. With the help of the community and leadership, the Class of 2020 was able to graduate with their families there to see. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ireland Summers)

U.S. Air Force Col. David S. Miller, 377th Air Base Wing commander, stands for the playing of the National Anthem.

U.S. Air Force Col. David S. Miller, 377th Air Base Wing commander, stands for the playing of the National Anthem on Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico, May 21, 2020. Miller commenced the ceremony and recognized graduates for their achievements. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ireland Summers)

KAFB Honor Guard.

Members of the KAFB Honor Guard stand at attention on Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico, May 21, 2020. A graduation ceremony was held to give seniors a traditional graduation with their families. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ireland Summers)

A woman holds a sign.

A supporter holds a sign congratulating graduates on Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico, May 21, 2020. Team Kirtland hosted a ceremony that first included a parade with graduates riding along in classical cars. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ireland Summers)

Graduates ride in a parade.

Graduates ride in a parade on Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico, May 21, 2020. The parade included seniors riding in classic cars, fire trucks, security forces vehicles and decorated floats created by various groups and councils that volunteered their time and support. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ireland Summers)

Graduation parade.

A graduation parade was held on Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico, May 21, 2020. Team Kirtland hosted a ceremony for graduating seniors to honor their accomplishments amid COVID-19. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ireland Summers)

Graduates wait on the bleachers.

Team Kirtland graduates wait for the ceremony to begin on Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico, May 21, 2020. The base community hosted a graduation ceremony for graduating seniors to honor their accomplishments amid COVID-19. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ireland Summers)

Graduates wait on the bleachers.

Graduates wait for the ceremony to begin on Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico, May 21, 2020. Team Kirtland hosted a graduation ceremony for graduating seniors to honor their accomplishments amid COVID-19. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ireland Summers)

KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, NM. --

Team Kirtland came together to celebrate its graduating seniors with a parade and small ceremony at Hardin Field on Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico, May 21, 2020.

While this day was not your typical graduation ceremony, the Kirtland community pulled together to make it just as memorable  by hosting a parade and allowing seniors a chance to walk across a stage in traditional fashion.

“During this pandemic, our graduates have missed out on the opportunity to walk across the stage and be celebrated for this significant milestone in their life,” said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Raechael Evans, 377th Medical Group pharmacy flight chief. “We wanted to make sure they were recognized for all of their hard work, and as a military family, we made it happen.” 

According to Evans, 27 seniors graduated from 17 different schools in the local area. 

The event included a parade with the seniors riding in classic cars, fire trucks, security forces vehicles and decorated floats created by various groups and councils that volunteered their time and support.

 U.S. Air Force Col. David S. Miller, 377th Air Base Wing commander, commenced the ceremony and gave congratulatory elbow bumps to each graduate as they walked across the stage. 

“This wasn’t the day you thought you would have,” said Miller. “It’s certainly not the one your parents wanted to give you. It’s not what your schools wanted to give you. But this is an incredible day where there was an outreach of the heart from leaders that you didn’t even know to make sure you remembered this day.” 

With the help of the community and leadership, the Class of 2020 was able to turn their tassels to the left side and officially graduate in front of their families. 

“It’s such an amazing experience to be a part of a community that cares for everyone,” said Roree Stewart, graduate from Eldorado High School. “I feel very appreciative being able to relate to a community where we are all loved by so many people that we don’t even know. ”