We are approaching the end of the school year and nearly every state has declared students will complete the semester via distance learning. Unfortunately, that means a lot of students, teachers, and families are left wondering … what can we do about graduation for the class of 2020?
Whether you’re looking to honor high school seniors with their cap and gowns and diplomas, or the students promoting from elementary or middle school, we’ve gathered together some ideas for what schools are doing for graduation ceremonies this year.
Some schools are renting out drive-in movie theaters as an option for a social distancing graduation. A community in Wichita, Kansas has already rented a theater. “As they enter into the Starlite drive-in, they can see names and congratulations and things like that,” organizer Thomas Montiel said.
Another school in Pennsylvania is considering the same. They are still debating if students will be able to exit the cars to walk across the stage and receive their diploma.
Other schools are opting for in-person individual graduations. The senior and a small group of family members are invited to the auditorium. Once they arrive, they will have to don masks and first pass through a temperature screening. The senior then walks the stage, has their tassel moved, and stops for a photographic moment.
Clinton High School in Clinton, Arkansas plans to do just this. “Each scheduled, individual ceremony will be allotted 15 minutes,” their Superintendent says. They will then incorporate the photos into a full length video that they will air at a drive-in theater like the idea above. “This is a groundbreaking way of celebrating graduation. The Class of 2020 will be making history.”
A school in Gulfport, Mississippi is doing the same. After recording each individual ceremony, they will then air the full video on graduation day. “Students will be able to watch their own graduation for the first time in the presence of family.”
Some districts are taking their graduation completely virtual for families. Miami-Dade Superintendent Alberto Carvalho recently revealed virtual graduation plans to his schools and students. He said, “I know your hearts have been broken with the unknown, not knowing if there would be a graduation this year. We are currently planning a virtual celebration ceremony of all of your accomplishments, individually celebrating each one of you.” Options include Zoom or other software that allows for individuals to login virtually from their homes.
Postponing Graduation Until Later
Some communities still want the graduation ceremony of years past. Thus, some schools are planning to postpone an official graduation until summer or even Thanksgiving. Spring ISD in Houston, TX is planning a virtual graduation in June and an in-person ceremony in July.
Promotion Videos and Parades
Seniors aren’t the only ones with graduation woes. Some schools are looking for ways to celebrate those students promoting from kindergarten, or into middle school or high school. In our Principal Life Facebook group, one member shares their plans for a promotion video. “The plan is to have kids come up and take pics in their cap and gowns at scheduled times. Sanitize in between. We’ll give them an award and take pics from at least 6 feet away. We’ll put together a slideshow and share it on our website and Facebook.”
Another leader plans a parade. “We are planning a 5th grade promotion parade around the school for our students. Also mailing letters and cards to each of our students.”