ETHS grads at last spring's commencement exercise. (Barbara Freeman photo)

At Evanston Township High School, the new normal is going back to the old normal this year for graduation.

For the first time since 2019, graduating seniors will be honored with a ceremony at Northwestern University’s Welsh-Ryan Arena.

The Class of 2020 had a completely virtual graduation, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

With the virus still going strong, the Class of 2021’s graduation was outdoors at the ETHS football stadium. There were six identical ceremonies, with the class divided into sections, as there was not enough room for everyone and their guests at the same time. There was a virtual 2021 ceremony as well.

But the 900 or so members of the Class of 2022 will have all the “Pomp and Circumstance” of leaving high school where the ceremony has been held traditionally. (Actually, the 2017 and 2018 graduations were at the Sears Center in Hoffman Estates while Welsh-Ryan was being renovated, but prior to that the event was at NU).

With COVID-19 diminishing, ETHS leaders felt it was safe to have graduation inside again.

As of now, Northwestern does not require masks at indoor events, however, the NU website says the university “strongly recommends masking in areas where distancing is not possible,” which would appear to include a full or nearly-full basketball arena.

This year’s graduation date is May 22, at 10 a.m. Each graduating senior will receive five tickets.

Jeff Hirsh joined the Evanston Now reporting team in 2020 after a 40-year award-winning career as a broadcast journalist in Cincinnati, Ohio.

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