High Schools Finalize Plans for In-Person Graduation Experiences and Graduation Parades

High Schools Finalize Plans for In-Person Graduation Experiences and Graduation Parades
Posted on 05/05/2020
Cap and diplomaFor Immediate Release
May 5, 2020
Contact: Steve Edwards, Coordinator of Policy and Communications
540-662-3888 ext. 88235

In addition to hosting virtual graduation ceremonies and senior awards programs, James Wood, Millbrook and Sherando high schools will each be offering seniors the opportunity to participate in in-person graduation experiences to be held in a controlled setting in which social distancing and other recommended safety actions are practiced. Each school will hold these private graduation events on June 11 and 12 (Rain dates are June 13 and 14). Each high school also plans to host a graduation parade which will allow members of the Class of 2020 to be recognized by teachers and other staff members from their high school as well as each high school’s feeder schools.

High school principals shared specific details about their graduation parades and inperson graduation experiences with seniors and their families earlier today. The parades will be held on the day each school will host its virtual graduation ceremony. The parades and virtual ceremonies will be held on June 3 (Sherando), June 4 (James Wood) and June 5 (Millbrook). The specific times will be determined by each school. Seniors and their families will be required to remain in their vehicles throughout their respective parade and will drive along a designated route on each high school’s campus to be recognized for their achievements and receive well wishes from school staff. The parades will represent this year’s version of the Senior Walks traditionally held at each elementary school as well as the final walks seniors make at their high schools immediately prior to their traditional graduation ceremonies.

The in-person graduation experiences will occur in each school’s football stadium, but will not be open to the public. Students will participate during designated times in order to assist with planning and to help each school ensure social distancing requirements are met. Each graduate who participates will wear their cap and gown, have their name announced, walk across the stage, receive their diploma cover, and have their tassel turned and photo taken. Up to four guests will be permitted to accompany each graduate.

Frederick County Public Schools Superintendent David Sovine says, “I’m extremely pleased that we will be able to provide an in-person graduation experience for our deserving high school seniors who have been forced to endure numerous challenges as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the unforeseen closure of our schools. I want to thank our high school principals, their administrative teams and senior class leaders for the time and effort they have devoted to finding creative ways to make an atypical graduation season both meaningful and memorable.”

Sovine adds, “We decided to share information on April 24 about our plans for virtual graduation ceremonies due to the number of questions we were receiving about the status of the commencement exercises scheduled for June 3, 4 and 5. We felt sharing information about the move to virtual ceremonies early was important because many seniors have family members who travel to attend their commencement exercises and the uncertainty surrounding the status of the ceremonies presented challenges for many.

Unfortunately, we cannot hold traditional commencement exercises due to limitations on the number of people who are allowed to participate in gatherings regardless of whether they occur indoors or outdoors. While delaying the ceremonies was considered, holding the events in the summer or fall presents a variety of challenges with no guarantee that we will be able to host large gatherings at that time due to the phased approach that will be taken to reopen Virginia over an extended period of time.

In order to enable those who were scheduled to play a role in each of the commencement programs to do so, we decided to hold virtual ceremonies when the original commencement exercises were to be held. These ceremonies will include video recordings of the speeches and other aspects of each commencement exercise that would have occurred if we were able to hold a traditional ceremony. During the virtual ceremonies, the names of each graduating senior will be read as a photo of the student appears on the screen.

At the time the announcement was made about the transition to virtual graduation ceremonies, we were not in a position to share detailed information about the in-person graduation experiences and graduation parades that have now been finalized. However, my statement noted that our high schools were looking at additional opportunities to recognize our graduating seniors during a controlled event. Since that time, our high schools have developed plans that will allow each senior to experience the joy of hearing their name called as they walk across a stage and receive their diploma cover in front of up to four guests.

While I sympathize with the members of the Class of 2020 and all they have endured over the past several weeks, I hope they recognize we are working to do the best we can to celebrate their achievements and honor them despite the challenges we’re facing at this unprecedented time. I commend them for the resilience, flexibility and patience they have exhibited through these trying times. They serve as an example for us all.”

Each high school will stream and archive its virtual graduation ceremony on its Facebook page. The school division will also make the virtual ceremonies available on its YouTube channel. Sherando High School’s ceremony will begin at 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday, June 3. James Wood High School’s commencement will start at 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, June 4. Millbrook High School’s ceremony will begin at 6:00 p.m. on Friday, June 5.

Individuals do not need a Facebook or YouTube account in order to view any of the virtual ceremonies. Those with limited Internet access are encouraged to utilize Internet hotspots. Wi-fi access areas are also available at most of Frederick County’s public schools (https://bit.ly/FCPSwifiaccess).