At a time when high school seniors should be preparing for graduation and making final, lasting memories in the classrooms, concert halls and athletic fields of their school, the COVID-19 crisis has them at home, perhaps secluded, and possibly uncertain about what the near future holds for their college or work plans.
For that reason, it’s never been more important for the school district to get the graduation ceremony right.
That started with listening to what seniors and senior parents wanted. Over 1,600 responded to the graduation survey that was sent out and the choice was clear: the vast majority wanted a graduation event on school campuses this summer, even if it means limited, spaced seating.
“The Class of 2020 was born during the time period of 9/11 and they are now graduating amidst COVID-19″, said Superintendent Marcus Chambers. “This is a strong and resilient group of seniors whom I believe will confidently and boldly step into the next chapter of life whether it be college, the military or the workforce.”
Here’s what the Okaloosa School District is planning to do to honor our local seniors:
The district has set aside the period of July 14-18 as the time to recognize seniors who have fulfilled graduation requirements in their stadiums, gymnasiums or auditoriums across the county with a true walk-across-the-stage ceremony.
Although it’s uncertain at this time what social distancing guidelines will be in effect at that time, the graduation plans will be flexible enough to hold a series of smaller events honoring groups of students at a time or adjust to a larger event if social gathering guidelines permit. The ceremonies will be streamed to ensure that family and friends who can’t attend will be able to see them live.
“We are in unprecedented times and this calls for outside of the box thinking”, continued Chambers. “Our seniors deserve to be fully recognized and honored for all that they have accomplished over the course of their 13 years of schooling. The plan we have put into place, though not a traditional graduation ceremony, will provide our seniors with a graduation where they walk across the stage and experience that proud moment of realization that… I’ve done it.”
In addition to the July ceremonies, schools will also be scheduling a time at the end of May for seniors to be individually filmed in cap and gown with the Principal. This footage, will be used to create a complete, professionally made graduation video for each school that would serve as an “insurance policy” should the July plans fall through due to COVID-19.