CALEXICO, Calif. -- High school seniors around the country are coping with missed milestones like prom and walking across the graduation stage.
"Our students invested 12, 13 years in their education, so we must invest in something to give them back, a ceremony they can be proud of," said John Moreno, principal of Aurora High Continuation in Calexico, California.
Several of the students graduating will be the first in their families to get a diploma. Students come to the continuation school for a fresh start; many were at risk of not graduating.
"It's a very big deal, many of them have not received any accolades, or any awards or any kind of recognition, any kind of victory. So when we see them with this victory, this is a big one," said Moreno.
When graduation was canceled due to COVID-19, students and their families were devastated.
So the district wanted to do something special, enlisting help from VEGO Pictures to create a virtual graduation.
The Hollywood production company changed its business model seemingly overnight to create virtual graduations for schools around the country. The move also helped employ Hollywood producers and directors out of work due to the pandemic.
With guidance from a VEGO Pictures producer, schools tape various clips they'd like to include in the virtual ceremony, and then the production company handles the rest.
Customized for each school, the ceremony is a tribute to student's talents and achievements from the last four years.
Anyone around the world can tune in to the virtual ceremony.
"I think it's pretty cool!" said Lorenzo Lopez, an Aurora High graduate. "Since it's going to be recorded and not in person, I can save it and watch it another time and show it to my kids and my grandkids."
While disappointed they couldn't have a traditional ceremony, students say they're grateful to at least have this memory.