Valencia High School choir celebrates students with socially distanced event

Choir co-presidents Kaylee Brewin, left, and Mia Garcia prepare for the 20202 Valencia High School Choir graduation ceremony which took place in the Real Life Church parking lot in Valencia on Friday, May 15, 2020. Dan Watson/The Signal
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This weekend would have marked the date for the Valencia High School jazz choir seniors’ final spring concert together. But because of COVID-19, that event, and milestone moment in their lives, was canceled.

This did not sit right with Valencia High School Choir Director Christine Tavares-Mocha, and it did not sit right with the seniors’ parents, either.

So, on Friday, Tavares-Mocha traveled to students’ homes to sing “Pomp and Circumstance” to them from the sunroof of her car.

Some of the 54 graduating Valencia High School Choir members applaud during the 20202 Valencia High School Choir graduation ceremony which took place in the Real Life Church parking lot in Valencia on Friday, May 15, 2020. Dan Watson/The Signal

“She came around 11 a.m. and she pulled up with her little speaker and microphone and she had me turn my tassel from left to right, like I was graduating,” said Rebecca Suen, a VHS senior. “It was really cute.”

After the tour to the homes, Tavares-Mocha invited more than 40 seniors gathered in the Real Life Church parking lot for a final moment together.

Choir director, Christine Mosha waves to the aerial drone as it prepares to take a photo of the 20202 Valencia High School Choir graduation ceremony which took place in the Real Life Church parking lot in Valencia on Friday, May 15, 2020. Dan Watson/The Signal

Sticking their heads out of their car windows and sunroofs, donned in their caps and gowns, the students took a picture together. They then listened to their teacher give a short farewell speech to them from her car, sing “Pomp and Circumstance” once again, and then receive the white rose they would have received from her at the conclusion of their final concert.

“Graduation is a huge milestone in a kid’s life,” said Tavares-Mocha. “And some of these seniors I’ve had for four years and they’ve watched the classes ahead of them graduate, and they were looking forward to this moment.”

Choir members caravan past the 54 graduation placards posted in front of Valencia High School after the 20202 Valencia High School Choir graduation ceremony which took place in the Real Life Church parking lot in Valencia on Friday, May 15, 2020. Dan Watson/The Signal

“When you cannot do what you do every year, you find a new way to honor your students, because, as teachers, we love them.”

The seniors, after hearing from their teacher probably for the last time for some as they head off to college or pursue careers, then took a drive past their school. On the lawn of Dickason Drive, the street that runs parallel to their campus, was another surprise for all the students: their faces on signs that covered the side of the grass on the side of the street.

Choir member Jenna Peterson, changes her tassel during the 20202 Valencia High School Choir graduation ceremony which took place in the Real Life Church parking lot in Valencia on Friday, May 15, 2020. Dan Watson/The Signal

“They (the signs) had like, ‘Valencia High School senior class 2020, Congratulations!’” said Josh Kwock, a VHS senior. “I didn’t know anything was happening. My parents kept it from me, I didn’t know at all. And the signs were really cool.”

“It was just a great experience just to get together with everybody, for one last time and to have my teacher there who’s been there for me forever, through everything, which is amazing,” said Valencia senior Mia Garcia.

“I was super shocked and then all of a sudden I felt a bit sentimental,” said Suen, who has been in the VHS choir now for four years. “It finally hit me that I’m graduating this year.”

“It was happy,” Suen added.

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