ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Many people didn’t think it would happen this year, but Albuquerque Public Schools is holding in-person graduation ceremonies. 441 Atrisco Heritage Academy seniors crossed the Nusenda Community Stadium field Monday to receive their diploma, overjoyed and relieved they graduated in-person after this tough year.

“I’m super excited, I’m ready to take on the world. It was a hard year but we definitely got it done, just pump through it, like we got through school, so we got it,” said Esteban Chavez, an Atrisco Heritage Academy graduate. 

This year’s graduation looked much different than previous years. People were grateful to have it in person after holding virtual graduations all of last year. Atrisco Heritage staff said this is the first year APS is holding graduation outdoors, at the APS-owned Nusenda Community Stadium.

The graduates sat six feet apart with their masks on throughout the ceremony and for the first time they were allowed to have their cell phones with them to inform their guests where they were. Each graduate was allowed to have four guests who were also required to wear masks at all times. 

However, even with those rules in place, families and friends couldn’t hide their excitement.

“It means a whole lot to me this is the day I’ve been waiting for since kindergarten and I’m so glad that we’re able to have this celebration today for her,” said Andrea Chavez.

Once the ceremony was over, security began urging graduates and their guests to leave the stadium immediately. So people wouldn’t gather together and so APS staff could begin cleaning and setting up for the next graduation. 

APS is holding 12 more graduations at Nusenda Community Stadium throughout the week. Graduation ceremonies will also be live-streamed and posted on the APS website.