Manistique graduation ceremony held at U.S. Highway 2 Drive-In Theater

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MANISTIQUE, Mich. (WJMN) — The hottest ticket Friday night was at the Highway 2 Drive-In Theater in Manistique was starring the Manistique High School class of 2020.

“I’m not happy that it end this way, but I think we really did a really good job and I think it’s going to be memorable,” said John Shiner, Principal, Manistique Middle & High School.

“We’ve been watching the different ones that have rolled out across the U.P. and everyone is doing a great job with all of their kids, but I think ours is really unique because we are fortunate to have this facility here.”

The Manistique High School held its graduation ceremony Friday night at one of the town’s prized possessions. The U.S. Highway 2 Drive-In Theater.

“In the times that we find ourselves in, this seems to be the best use for our property at the moment,” said Don Erickson, President, Upper Peninsula Film Union.

The original idea was to have the ceremony downtown, but keeping with social distancing recommendations, the school thought it wouldn’t work.

Don Erickson and the Upper Peninsula Film Union reached out to the high school to see if they would like to have a graduation ceremony at the drive-in. The school thought it was a great idea.

“It is kind of a neat thing for this generation to be able to experience something that 50 years down the road, who knows, maybe drive-inn’s will be gone from the landscape of America and this years graduating class will be able to say ‘I graduated at a drive-inn theater and that’s pretty cool,” said Erickson.

The original idea was to have the ceremony downtown, but keeping with social distancing recommendations, the school thought it wouldn’t work.

The principal said the drive-in was the best place to host an event like this during an uncertain time.

Cars started to line up a couple hours before the alternative graduation ceremony began. A tribute video made by the high school played on the big screen and the graduates and their loved ones listened along in their cars on 100.5 FM.

“One of the reasons why we really liked this place is that we could control the amount of people that came in and you have natural social distancing,” said Principal Shiner.

“With the cars being ‘X’ amount of feet apart and people either staying in their cars or next to the car you have that natural space that they have to maintain. Plus, we can control who comes and goes. So, if we were to have it downtown or have it in a parking lot or something like that we couldn’t who’s coming. This way we can control who enters.”

The over hour long video showed the 68 members of the Class of 2020, along with faculty and commencement speakers, wrapping up this strange year.

Students weren’t really sure what to make of this graduation ceremony, but by the end of the night, they knew it was one they will remember forever.

“At first they were a little hesitant because their used to a traditional ceremony in a gymnasium and everything, but overall I think they were really happy with the results,” said Payton Hoholik, Class of 2020, Manistique High School.

“I’ve talked to a lot of people who have graduated, like some of my friends and everything, and a lot of them have said they barely remember stuff from their graduation, but this is so different that it’s going to stay with me.”

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