NIXA, Mo. — “The diploma is the most important thing we offer, at the end we’re honoring you,” said Dr. Gearl Loden, superintendent of Nixa Schools. “One door is closing but something even better is for you in life as you leave the school and we’re proud of that.”

When COVID-19 upended many graduation plans, Loden thought he would lose the opportunity to give his son, Trey, a diploma.

“It’s going to be special for the other parents grandparents and all the family there all the 400 children that graduate, but as a dad I’m very excited to be able to hand him his diploma,” Loden said.

“Just being able to shake his hand and get the diploma from him is awesome,” Trey said. “Whenever I’ll be looking back whenever I have grandkids I’ll be like, “Oh there’s me and my dad and he’s going to be there handing it to me.’ It’s just a big accomplishment for both of us: for him getting to be a superintendent and for me being able to graduate underneath him.”

The father-son duo says they’ve both grown together throughout the years and the diploma is a symbol of both their hard work as well as the other Nixa seniors that are graduating.

“As I’ve grown through my education, my dad has also grown through positions because he started out as a teacher when I was a baby,” Trey said. “Then he went to principal and now he’s a superintendent. As I progressed through school he has become a larger role and I’ve just been able to be more impacted by how he runs things.”

But just because graduation isn’t happening right now like normal, it doesn’t mean Nixa won’t be celebrating.

“Just getting some closure about it,” Trey said. “I’m actually done. I’m moving on cause right now, it’s kind of surreal. It doesn’t feel like I actually finished yet.”

“Our intent is to still have a graduation ceremony,” Loden said. “It might be different we might have to have multiple ceremonies but the key is to still have a graduation ceremony that all the parents and family members can enjoy, seeing their young person graduate from high school.”

Loden says the seniors are still participating in some virtual end-of-year activities to keep a sense of normalcy and to help the seniors bond one last time before parting ways.

Nixa is expected to have a graduation ceremony in late July.