In-Person Graduations Planned Amid New Mexico Vaccine Push

LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) — A year after holding only drive-thru graduations, the school district for New Mexico's second most populous city has scheduled in-person graduation ceremonies at the district's soccer stadium for its six high schools over two days later this month.

Las Cruces Public Schools scheduled ceremonies on May 21 for Onate and Mayfield high schools and Arrowhead Park Early College High School and on May 22 for Las Cruces and Centennial high schools and Rio Grande Preparatory Institute,

Each graduating senior can invite up to 16 ticketed people as officials hope to ease construction-related traffic near the Field of Dreams stadium. Social distancing and mask-wearing will be required for all attendee while inside the venue.

“I do want to thank all the graduates for their continuous resilience throughout this whole pandemic, and really doing the best that they can,” interim Superintendent Ralph Ramos said. “We want to have this ceremony."

Ramos told the Las Cruces Sun-News that the district is looking into ways to celebrate the Class of 2020, which didn't have a normal graduation.

Following back-to-back virtual celebrations in 2020, New Mexico State University will host two separate in-person ceremonies at Aggie Memorial Stadium — one for graduate degree candidates on Friday and another for undergraduate degree candidates on Saturday. A virtual ceremony also will be live-streamed Saturday.

“We are so excited to be able to have not one but two in-person ceremonies as well as a virtual ceremony, which allows for more participation from our distance graduates,” said Gabrielle Martinez, NMSU graduation and curriculum data specialist and commencement coordinator.

The in-person ceremonies are invitation-only events. Graduates will be able to invite two guests.

And as the pace of vaccination slows, New Mexico health officials announced Wednesday that vaccines will be available at New Mexico United home games in Albuquerque starting this weekend. Shots will be available for up to 150 ticketholders to the May 15 match in the tailgate lot.

The latest state data shows just over 48% of residents over the age of 16 have been fully vaccinated.