Schools adjusting graduation ceremonies on the fly
Local graduation ceremonies for the class of 2020 will be shaped by health guidelines and social distancing amid ongoing efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. School districts have been exploring options for students and their families to still formally celebrate receiving a diploma in the upcoming weeks.
One factor to how graduation ceremonies are conducted later this month will be if the county advances to Phase 2.
On Friday, June 5, the county advanced to Phase 2.
Everett high schools
The Everett School District currently has two different plans for the graduation proceedings of its three comprehensive high schools.
If the county is in Phase 2, there will be drive-up ceremonies featuring a covered outdoor stage at the south parking lot of Everett Memorial Stadium. This would allow for graduates, at their assigned date and time, being driven up to the stage and then let out to walk across the platform in view of their family, while also being recorded for inclusion in a larger edited digital celebration video.
Graduating students will be required to wear a mask until they walk across the stage and then must get back in their vehicle and immediately leave the parking area. One car will be allowed per family. “Families who don’t have transportation are to contact their school and we will coordinate transportation for them,” school district spokesperson Kathy Reeves said by email.
The ceremonies would be held for Cascade High on June 11, Jackson High on June 12 and Everett High on June 13.
If the county isn’t determined to be in Phase 2 by June 10, then the district will implement a backup plan of an all-virtual ceremony for graduates of those three schools. It would involve collecting student photo submissions to be spliced, in lieu of a stage crossing, into a final edited digital celebration featuring each graduating class and prerecorded commencement speeches.
Sequoia High School, which is a much smaller school, will hold its commencement June 10 at the Everett Civic Auditorium.
All of the schools’ final commencement videos will then be available on YouTube Premieres.
Snohomish high schools
The Snohomish School District would like to utilize a drive-through approach for their graduation ceremonies. These plans rely on the county moving to Phase 2 and feature social distancing efforts to meet health department guidelines.
Commencements will be held at each high school with students and their families arriving at preassigned times. There will be an outdoor stage that vehicles can pull up to when directed, allowing each graduate to then get out and cross the platform in their cap and gown. They will have a professional photo or video taken and then must return to their vehicle.
“We will work with those students and families who do not have access to a vehicle to provide transportation,
a district spokeswoman said.
All the photos and videos for each high school will be compiled into a final commencement video that will then be sent out to the graduates and their families in early July.
Drive-up ceremonies are scheduled for AIM High School on June 17, Glacier Peak High School on June 18 and Snohomish High School on June 19.
The district said in a statement, “Should we remain in Phase 1 through our scheduled dates in June, we will only be able to offer the virtual option that follows the rules under Phase 1.”
Monroe High School
The school will have a virtual graduation ceremony on June 20 at 2 p.m. Graduating seniors have the choice of submitting either a cap and gown photo or their senior picture. They can also include any awards or honors earned and a personal message of up to 150 characters.
Prerecorded speeches and musical performances will be featured in the program. “We are planning as close to our usual ceremony as possible,” the district said in a newsletter. It will be available to view on YouTube Premieres and a link will be sent out before the commencement. Graduates will be able to download key pieces of the ceremony for themselves.
District spokeswoman Tamara Krache said last week that:
"We have finalized a virtual graduation that will be live-streamed on YouTube on June 20th.
In addition, we are working on two other possible options to recognize the class of 2020 that are 100% dependant on what Safe Start Phase our county is in at the time. One is a drive-through graduation at MHS (no one exiting vehicles) and the other is a drive-through graduation at MHS with graduates exiting vehicles one at a time and crossing a stage. In order for either of those options to happen, we will need approval from the Snohomish County Health District of the plan and we will need to be in the correct phase. At this point we have approval from the Snohomish Health District IF we are in Phase 2. Both proposals require Snohomish County to enter into Phase 2 of the “Safe Start” order. "
The Trojans’ graduation ceremony will be an online virtual event on June 19. “In addition to video speeches by EvCC President Dr. Daria Willis and student speakers, there will be a link to slides of our graduates,” said EvCC spokeswoman Katherine Schiffner by email. “Graduates can download their slide and share it with their families and on social media.”
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