‘Nice to get the recognition’: Air Force Academy cadet attends high school graduation virtually

Problem Solvers

ARVADA, Colo. (KDVR) – High school seniors are finally getting graduation ceremonies that were postponed by the coronavirus, but not everyone can attend. Some graduates are working, others are already off at college. One Jefferson County standout student was going to miss her ceremony, until her mother reached out to the FOX31 Problem Solvers. Deborah Takahara was able to make this family’s senior year complete. 

Katlyn Keating was one of the valedictorians at Standley Lake High School in Westminster. As part of the class of 2020, she and her classmates missed out on many important milestones.

“They missed prom, senior BBQ, so it’s been very emotional for us,” said Katlyn’s mom, Susi Keating.

Katlyn’s father, Sean Keating said, “This is kind of like their last hurrah and final goodbye for many of them. They haven’t seen each other since quarantine.” 

It looked like Katlyn was going to have to miss her graduation as well. She reported to the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs in late June, only to find out her class would have a graduation ceremony on Aug. 7. Since she was on strict quarantine guidelines, she was not able to leave campus. Her mother reached out to Deborah Takahara and asked if there was any way to convince the Air Force Academy to allow her to attend virtually.  

The media team at the academy responded quickly and just days before the ceremony, Lt. Col. Mike Andrews, academy spokesman, sent the following statement:

“The Air Force Academy is happy to help Cadet Keating virtually attend her high school graduation that had been postponed due to COVID-19. As her class’ valedictorian, this is a moment she has worked hard for, and was deserving to receive this achievement. It is that same commitment to excellence we expect out of our Cadets, and something Cadet Keating and her fellow classmates are learning right now at the Academy’s Basic Cadet Training.” 

So, Katlyn joined her parents on a Zoom call during Friday night’s graduation ceremony and heard her name read aloud, while her parents and friends cheered.

“Overall, it’s really nice to get the recognition finally. And even if it’s virtually, just to see my friends again and see all their accomplishments on stage and see all the things they’ve done, it really means a lot,” Katlyn said.

Her parents are forever grateful for this moment they will never forget.

The Air Force holds a special place in their family. Katlyn’s grandfather served in the Air Force, and her older brother just finished six years enlisted in the USAF.

“We are grateful they look at it as Katlyn is not just their cadet, but our daughter. We love so much. We want her to be proud of it,” Susi said.

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