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-Press Release, Granville County Public Schools
Few events mark a rite of passage for young people and their families like a high school graduation ceremony. Walking across the stage in front of one’s peers, family members and the entire community not only celebrates their significant academic accomplishments, but it also symbolizes a major transition in their lives. It represents a true commencement of new opportunities, new adventures and, of course, new responsibilities.
Granville County Public Schools has a proud history of celebrating its students on graduation day, but unfortunately, like countless other academic institutions across the country and around the world, the COVID-19 global pandemic has forced some unwanted, yet necessary changes.
By its very design and nature, traditional graduation ceremonies are a concentrated physical gathering of members of the community. With the coronavirus now in our midst, we must make adjustments to ensure the safety and welfare of the public.
Currently, the Governor’s orders restrict and limit interactions and gatherings in a way that makes such an event all but impossible. As such, GCPS has been working with stakeholders to develop alternative plans to abide by safety policies and still honor our graduates in a meaningful way. Committees have been at work to develop these plans. The members included graduating seniors, parents, teachers, administrators and Board members. Local health care professionals and law enforcement have been consulted, as well.
After much deliberation and discussion, several options were considered. With the safety and welfare of our students, their families, staff members and the community as the primary consideration, one final recommendation has been adopted.
This year, the graduating class of 2020 will be recognized during a modified ceremony to be held at or near the same dates as originally planned. While a compromise from the traditional format, this modified graduation ceremony will still have a personalized component that will celebrate and spotlight each student in honoring their accomplishments. Each graduate will be given a designated time to take that once in a lifetime “graduation walk” across the stage, before receiving his/her diploma.
All students will participate in this modified graduation ceremony on their high school campus. Instead of gathering in large groups, each graduate and their guests will travel in their vehicle to participate in a “drive-thru” type ceremony, whereby their guests will enjoy a front-row view of the stage from the protection of their vehicle. One vehicle per graduate will be permitted. Only the graduate will be permitted to exit the vehicle in an effort to honor the Governor’s Orders and all DHHS regulations at that time.
The Superintendent and some Board of Education members will be on hand with each school principal to celebrate the momentous occasion and will be honoring “social distancing” measures. A professional photographer will be on-site to take photographs for purchase.
Graduation ceremonies are scheduled for the following days and times:
Thursday, June 11, 2020 ~ 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. Granville Early College High School
Thursday, June 11, 2020 ~ 1 – 2 p.m. Granville Academy
Friday, June 12, 2020 ~ 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. South Granville High School
Saturday, June 13, 2020 ~ 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. J.F. Webb High School/ Webb Health and Life Sciences
Saturday, June 13, 2020 ~ 3 – 7 p.m. Granville Central High School
Each ceremony will be live-streamed online for the public to view in real-time. In addition, a video recording of the entire event, including recordings of valedictorian and salutatorian speeches and other highlights, will be provided so all graduates and their families may have the entire event fully captured to celebrate and remember for years to come.
Finally, opportunities will be provided for those who wish to participate in the annual winter graduation ceremony.
Superintendent Alisa McLean commented, “I cannot think of too many events in a young person’s life that are more important to celebrate than their graduation from high school. This is a time of joy and happiness that deserves as much recognition as we can allow given the circumstances of the pandemic. While not ideal, this modified format will allow families and their students ways to actually be present and participate in the event. It is far more preferable to having a virtual ceremony, which unfortunately is something many communities are forced to contemplate. I look forward with excitement when I can personally congratulate each graduate on stage this year.”
Board Chairman David Richardson offered his thoughts, stating, “While certainly not our first choice in how to commemorate graduation this year, this modified format will be done with the same care, preparation and dignity of any other. We are determined to not let the current pandemic dampen our spirits during this time of hope and joy for our students.”
Additional details on the process and safety guidelines for these modified ceremonies will be shared with graduates and their families in the coming days. The primary goal of GCPS is to ensure that all risks to the health, safety and well-being of our students, their families, staff members, and the community at large are minimized as it relates to the current pandemic.
Staff will continue to consult with health care officials and law enforcement to ensure best practices are followed and that all plans are in compliance with statewide executive Orders related to the pandemic. We wish our graduates nothing but the best and look forward to celebrating this important milestone in their lives.