With graduation possibly canceled, how does a Minecraft graduation sound, Class of 2020?

While many students are taking advantage of the lighter homework load and having fun gaming, there is one group that remains wistful. For seniors, the end of the year signals the end of their high school experience. It is a time to finally relax and appreciate what they have accomplished and the friends they have made. CHS also plans several important events solely for seniors to celebrate their last year. Prom, Senior Sitout, graduation, and a graduation party are some of the main events seniors look forward to. As of now, all of these have either been cancelled or moved back to a later time. Even the postponements are tentative, as the administration cannot know if the stay-at-home orders will be lifted anytime soon. Eventually, seniors will start moving away to their respective colleges and the senior events will become impossible. But a final hope remains. The increased use of online platforms allows for some commemorations to be held online. One idea that students across the country have been drawn to is a Minecraft graduation in the wake of physical ones being cancelled.

A screenshot of senior Eli Kupetz’s Minecraft replica of the CHS 500s quad. (images courtesy of Eli Kupetz)
Minecraft replica of the CHS football field.
Minecraft replica the CHS weight room and parking lot.

Of all the senior celebrations, graduation stands out as the most important. Most of the others are just for fun and are not completely needed. However, graduation is different. The ceremony is a formal event where students receive their diploma, the culmination of years of hard work. Graduation is not just for students, either. It provides closure and celebration for the parents proud of their children’s accomplishments and the teachers who supported them. It is important that the school try to make this event possible above all others, solely for the above reasons.

Luckily, graduation also functions in such a way that conducting it online is somewhat feasible. Other senior celebrations are more difficult to do at home. For example, it is inconceivable to have prom without a special location, dancing, and in-person contact. The core components for graduation — gathering the multitude of participants, speeches, and receiving the diploma in front of everyone — can be arranged to some extent online.
Minecraft just might be the ideal platform for this. Over 60 CHS seniors have already expressed interest towards such an event.

“Minecraft graduation sounds great because it’s a game many of us already own,” senior Roark Chao said. Many others agree with him.

The idea is not a new one. Many students from universities across the country are working towards developing online graduations under the banner of “Quaranteen University” so that graduating seniors from higher-education institutions will have memories for years. Participants include students from major universities such as Boston University, UC Berkeley, and the University of Washington. Other grades are organizing their own graduation ceremonies in Minecraft as well. In one exceptional example reported on by Business Insider, eight Japanese elementary school students successfully organized and held such a ceremony in Minecraft.

Minecraft has several attributes which make it a viable platform for an online graduation ceremony. First, Minecraft is at its core a world-building game. This allows for a complete reconstruction of the CHS campus so the environment of a real graduation ceremony can be replicated for the participants. The scale of having so many assembled along with the scenic grandeur of the setting can be uniquely achieved in Minecraft. To this end, some have already been working towards recreating CHS in the game. Senior Eli Kupitz has been working over the past few weeks at building the campus from the ground up. Another positive for Minecraft is the accessibility of the platform. Minecraft is a highly popular game which most students already own. Even if there are students who do not own a copy or have far away relatives who want to attend, Mojang offers a demo version of the game which allows access for 100 minutes. Graduation organizers might have to plan around this time limit, but the entire event is still easily viable.

The Wolfpacket shared a poll with all CHS senior English teachers asking if students are interested in a Minecraft graduation. 237 responses were recorded. 29.5 percent of participants voted “Yes,” 59.9 percent of participants voted “No,” and the remaining 10.5 percent of participants voted “I don’t care.” (image | Asiya Junisbai)

A Minecraft graduation comes with many difficulties as well that cannot be ignored. First are server hosting problems. A student-run server could only have a small amount of people online, certainly not enough for a graduation ceremony. There are Minecraft server providers that would be able to host a server for enough participants to join, but that option costs money. There is also the possibility of trolls. During the event, the chat would have to be kept clear, but it is possible some might use the opportunity to fill it with obscene language while remaining anonymous under their Minecraft username. Luckily, there are hundreds of moderation plugins that have been created for Minecraft servers in the past that can be put to use for a graduation ceremony as well. They can moderate the chat and organize participants in groups to reduce confusion and outside sabotage.

There are many more areas to work through as well. Announcing student names to come up and receive their “diploma,” a quick and easy schedule plan that all the participants will understand, and an announcement mechanism so everyone can hear speeches are points organizers will have to consider, along with many more. Setting up a Minecraft graduation is no easy feat. Yet it is important that the school and class of 2020 work towards seeing this important milestone come to fruition so that this most cherished moment of high school will not be forgotten. As the organizers behind Quaranteen University proudly display on their website, “Coronavirus won’t stop the Class of 2020.”