Fresno Unified families celebrate classes of 2020, 2021 despite extreme heat

Not even a fourth straight day of triple-digit temperatures could put the pomp and circumstance on hold.
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The extreme heat is being felt by Fresno Unified families who are celebrating the classes of 2021 and 2020.

But not even a fourth straight day of triple-digit temperatures could put the pomp and circumstance on hold.

"We're going to be here and supportive. That's the whole point of being out here, even if it's hot, rainy or sunny, we're here," says one mom, Raquel Pineda.

Pineda and her family found relief from the heat in one of two large cooling centers set up for graduation. Raquel's son Isiah is part of JE Young's graduating class of 2021.

"We also came prepared, bringing umbrellas and extra water," Pineda says.

As did many Fresno Unified families.

The district wanted to make sure everyone could celebrate their seniors comfortably so they passed out fans with programs, set up hydration stations and shaded areas.

Because of the pandemic, the Big Fresno Fairgrounds housed commencement for the classes of 2021 and 2020.

"One of the things you had to do was be outside and so we had to scramble a little bit and figure out how we could accommodate a large group of people," says Fresno Unified superintendent Bob Nelson.

Over the next two weeks, Fresno Unified seniors will turn their tassels in 13 socially distanced ceremonies - ceremonies some feared would never happen.

"This is the only year coming back so everyone could walk. I'm happy it was better than I thought," says Omar Guerrero, who was in the class of 2021.

Nelson says the setting was fitting as the fairgrounds are quintessential Fresno.

"Celebrating that with our kids and their families is crucially important, that's just a memory that you want every child to be able to preserve throughout their life," says Nelson.

But that's for any graduation, these celebrations go beyond academic achievement.

"Nobody has learned more about life and that life and that you're not always going to get exactly what you hoped for than our 2020/2021 grads. They learned a lot of lessons that a lot of us take a long time to learn as adults," says Nelson.

5 of 13 Fresno unified graduations have taken place. To avoid having families sit in triple-digit temperatures, each ceremony takes place in the morning or later evening hours.

From all of us here at ABC30, congratulations graduates!
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