Seniors graduate, but not in traditional fashion

By TIM BEELAND,

Graduation ceremonies around the country have become quite creative during the COVID-19 pandemic and things are no different here in Scott County.

Forest High School seniors walked the stage to receive their diplomas in a one-by-one ceremony last week and Scott County Schools seniors are set to graduate in “socially distant” ceremonies on their football fields in early June.

Forest Municipal School District Superintendent of Education, Dr. Karen Norwood, said that in conjunction with FHS Senior  Student  Council members, the high school administration “developed a plan for each senior and up to four family members to experience walking across the stage and receiving their diploma as close to the traditional experience as possible under current circumstances.

“Our seniors have worked hard and deserve and earned recognition for this exciting milestone,” Norwood said. “On May 11-13, each graduate signed up for a time slot across the three days so that the number of people gathered was less than 10. All guests and school district employees were scanned by a digital machine for temperature checks and all safety precautions and procedures were enforced throughout the day.”

The seniors walked across the stage after hearing their name called out to accept their diploma. Graduates were photographed and then video recorded as the senior walked across the stage and the district hired a production company who will take these video segments and create a complete ceremony.

“We encourage students and families to gather and celebrate together in their own homes to watch the full recording of the graduation ceremony,” Norwood said. Seniors will have their caps and gowns to wear and make pictures with their family and friends during the recorded ceremony that will be aired on May 21, 2020, at 7 p.m., which is when their graduation ceremony was originally scheduled. It was the sincere desire to give our graduates a meaningful experience while still maintaining a safe environment for all.  The Class of 2020 is making history and we applaud their resilience in these unprecedented times.

Graduation ceremonies for the SCSD are set for the week of June 1-6 according to Superintendent of Education Dr. Tony McGee.

Sebastopol’s graduation will be June 1 and Lake seniors will graduate on June 2. June 3 will be a makeup day in case of rain. Scot Central seniors will graduate on June 4 followed by Morton seniors on June 5, with June 6 being a make-up day. The week of June 22-27 has been set aside with the same schedule should health mandates cancel plans for the first week of June.

“We met virtually with senior parents and talked to them about a couple of options,” McGee said. “Most folks wanted to stay as traditional as possible and we want to give them that.”

McGee said the school district has a comprehensive plan that will socially distant the graduates on the football fields at their individual schools as well as pre-arranged seating for up to six family members.

“We will be enforcing social distancing entering the stadiums, sitting in the stadiums and exiting the stadiums,” McGee said. “We feel like we can do this and meet all the guidelines the governor has set for outside gatherings.”

McGee said that the school district has ordered special commemorative masks for the students and family members attending are asked to wear some type of face covering as well. For safety’s sake, instead of the traditional cap toss at the end of the ceremonies the graduates will return to their individual seats and celebrate with a balloon release.

“Of course this is all written in sand at this point,” McGee concluded, “it could change at any moment.”

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