By Maria Medina

SANTA CLARA (KPIX 5) – After last year’s college and high school seniors had their graduation ceremonies canceled because of the pandemic, a growing number of this year’s graduating seniors in the Bay Area are finding the most anticipated year-end traditions are making a return.

“I’m so happy because I didn’t think I would get an in-person one,” said Paris DeAngelo, a graduating senior at Wilson High School. “This has been a long four years of high school.”

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Last week, the Santa Clara student and the rest of the graduating class at her school learned the district decided to hold in-person, outdoor graduation ceremonies on May 28th.

DeAngelo picked up her diploma, cap and gown on Tuesday and then made her way to Levi’s Stadium to get her first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Paris DeAngelo, a senior at Wilson High School in Santa Clara, takes graduation photos before receiving the COVID-19 vaccine at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara on May 12, 2021. (CBS)

Paris DeAngelo, a senior at Wilson High School in Santa Clara, takes graduation photos before receiving the COVID-19 vaccine at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara on May 12, 2021. (CBS)

“I’m actually excited, because I just want things to get back to normal and start getting out there again,” DeAngelo told KPIX 5. “Because I’m tired of being home all the time.”

As COVID-19 cases decrease and health restrictions loosen, other schools are also moving forward with in-person graduation ceremonies, including Palo Alto Unified School District and Stanford University. Each school has its own guidelines to adhere to public health restrictions.

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Morgan Hill Unified School District also decided to hold in-person graduation ceremonies the first week of June. The graduating classes at each of its high schools will be split into half, according to superintendent Steve Betando.

“There’s nothing like being there listening to the speeches live, throwing up their caps at the end and everybody cheering them on,” Betando told KPIX 5.

“For the students, they’re getting to choose which graduation they go to. The early one or the late one. So each cohort will have about 150 students,” the superintendent explained. “It is fantastic, it is a great way to end a really tough year and a half of a pandemic.”

Betando said his district held vaccination clinics for local students, which meant seniors were able to get inoculated before graduation day. Another vaccination clinic is planned for this weekend, including administering second doses for many of the seniors or who received their first dose several weeks ago.

DeAngelo said she knows it will be an emotional day not only for her, but her family as well after more than a year of distance learning.

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“It’s been a struggle, honestly,” DeAngelo said. “I worked hard for this piece of paper, and I just want to be proud of myself and show it off. I’m going to cry, I’m definitely going to cry.”