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Penn State plans celebration weekend for Class of 2020

(AP) Penn State’s Class of 2020, which missed its in-person commencement ceremony last year due to the pandemic, is getting a second chance at celebrating.

The university announced Thursday afternoon, alongside the alumni association, that all 2020 graduates from all campuses are invited to attend next spring’s “Class of 2020 Commencement Celebration Weekend.” The event will take place April 29 to May 1, 2022, at University Park.

That is a week before the scheduled Class of 2022 commencement, which will occur May 6-8.

“I am so proud of the members of the Class of 2020 and the resilience they embodied as they navigated the pandemic,” Penn State President Eric Barron said in a written statement. “Even though these recent alumni have launched their lives and careers, it is important to me, and our entire university community, to welcome them back to campus for a special weekend in their honor and to celebrate their achievements as Penn Staters.”

According to the university, graduates and their families can take part in commencement ceremonies April 30 at the Bryce Jordan Center. A Movin’ On concert for the Penn State community will also be held April 29, and a detailed schedule of activities and events throughout the week will be released in the near future.

Before officially graduating in 2020, students clamored for officials to commit to a future in-person event to make up for the missed commencement - as virtual ceremonies took place at the time, at the recommendation of health experts. In March 2021, as vaccines circulated and COVID-related restrictions were eased, the university said it anticipated planning a special celebration weekend for 2020 grads in spring 2022.

Thursday marked the first announcement of those specific days, April 29 to May 1.

While graduates of the commonwealth campuses are also invited to University Park, those campuses will also be in touch with 2020 graduates regarding additional separate celebrations. Those who have completed medical or law degrees will not have ceremonies specific to them at University Park, however, as their ceremonies are traditionally separate to begin with.

More details, including registration information, will be available in the coming months. Graduates are asked to make sure their email on file is up to date to receive future updates.

“We are so excited to welcome the Class of 2020 back to campus next spring,” said Paul Clifford, president of the Penn State Alumni Association and a fellow Class of 2020 graduate. “We hope our alumni and their friends and families will join us for a weekend of special activities and events, as well as visit their favorite places on campus and in the Centre region.”

Friends fist bump after being named graduates and turning their tassels during a past Penn State commencement ceremony. 2020 grads will be able to celebrate their graduation with special commencement ceremonies in 2022. ABBY DREY/Centre Daily Times, file