COVID-19 has banished plenty of high school activities and traditions. But Wallowa County school districts are hoping that graduation ceremonies will not be one of them.
“We’ve made plans that are in line with the requirements for social distancing,” said Joseph Charter School high school Principal Sherri Kilgore. “We are going to hold a graduation ceremony.”
Joseph’s graduation for its 13 seniors has been moved to June 5th, and will be held at 4 p.m. on the football field. “June 5th will buy us a little more time, so maybe the seniors can have guests,” Kilgore said. “In a worst case scenario, we will have it just with the kids and immediate family, so that way we can spread them out.”
Kilgore and JCS is working directly with the seniors and their parents, and letting them plan the ceremony. “ We have lots of ideas going,” Kilgore said. “The seniors actually felt good about that.” The idea is to keep the ceremony small. Students will get their diploma, and photographer Charity Ketscher will snap their official graduation pictures beginning at 2:30. “They were hoping for a more traditional ceremony,” Kilgore said, “But they’ll get their diploma. And pictures, a lot will be pretty traditional.
Enterprise principal Blake Carlsen is being cautious about how much of the ongoing graduation planning process he reveals. There will be a ceremony on May 23 at 1 p.m., tentatively on the Outlaw’s football field (weather permitting). “The schedule of events will be similar to years past based upon the limitations of the venue,” he said in an email. “We will have a celebration of graduation to the fullest extent possible based upon what social distancing guidelines are at the time.” The graduation committee is exploring more detailed plans, but those could be required to change based on ongoing changes in state guidelines.
Like Enterprise, Wallowa is not yet ready to finalize plans for their graduation. “We are still exploring options and have a few in mind,” said principal David Howe. “Graduation isn’t just about the seniors. It is an opportunity for teachers, parents, family and community to be able to celebrate their graduation. … we are trying to explore as many options as possible to include as many people as (possible). The challenge will be trying to mesh the goals of Wallowa High School and the social distancing mandates that the governor has in place. We are holding out making formal plans, hoping that there will be some easing of social distancing so that graduation 2020 can be as traditional as possible—we owe that to our seniors, parents, family, teachers and community.”
Graduation planning may move forward after a panel tomorrow at the state level to discuss protocols for graduation ceremonies. “They are discussing options and I want to get the best possible options before we move forward with specifics,” said Enterprise superintendent Erika Peterson.