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Tue, June 02

Graduation ceremonies scheduled for some local high schools – with flexibility
Grad plans announced

Graduating Prescott High School seniors Erin Kennedy (front), the Key Club Vice President; and Madison Jackson, the yearbook editor-in-chief; stand at a social distance in Bill Shepard Field where commencement will take place in August. (Jesse Bertel/Courier)

Graduating Prescott High School seniors Erin Kennedy (front), the Key Club Vice President; and Madison Jackson, the yearbook editor-in-chief; stand at a social distance in Bill Shepard Field where commencement will take place in August. (Jesse Bertel/Courier)

Bradshaw Mountain High School senior McKyrie Herb is happy to know COVID-19 will not steal her chance to share in a graduation ceremony with some 400 classmates, many she has known since she started kindergarten in the Humboldt Unified District 13 years ago.

“It’s exciting to know we’re still going to be able to get our class together one last time because our last day of school we didn’t get to say goodbye,” McKyrie said.

On Wednesday afternoon, district Superintendent Dan Streeter announced June 24 will be Bradshaw Mountain High’s graduation ceremony at the Findlay Toyota Center in Prescott Valley.

Exactly how it will look, though, still depends on how this no-vaccine virus responds to loosened restrictions here and everywhere.

REACTIONS

Prescott High senior Abby Stoecker was elated to awake Wednesday morning and hear Aug. 7 and 8 will be her class’ graduation celebration, one to include a parade of the cap-and-gowned graduates through all six district schools followed the next morning with commencement exercises on Bill Shepard Field.

“I’m glad to be part of a school that cares about how we are recognized as seniors,” said Abby who with her brother, Sam, are Class of 2020 Graduates of Distinction. “I understand nothing is for sure, and so I don’t hold that against anyone.

“It’s just very admirable for PHS to be thinking of us in this way.”

Fellow PHS Graduate of Distinction Emily Hobson concurs.

“It’s important for us to be acknowledged for all the hard work we’ve put in,” said Emily who particularly welcomes the chance to go back with her peers and reminisce in the schools and with teachers that launched their educational journey. “It’s definitely worth the wait.”

In Mayer, Superintendent and High School Principal Dean Slaga said his just over 20 seniors will be able to keep their scheduled graduation date for today, Thursday, May 21. It will be a drive-in event, but still enables the graduates to cheer their peers from a social distance and be delivered faculty-prepared video messages with a graduate slideshow – albeit not done in a congregate setting as it has been in the past.

“I talked with all the parents, and they were ecstatic because their assumption was we wouldn’t be able to do anything for the kids,” Slaga said. “They will get the bulk of what we’re used to in Mayer and that was important to us.”

Northpoint Expeditionary Learning Academy is also hosting a drive-in ceremony at the Prescott Resort on their scheduled graduation, Friday, May 22.

Tri-City College Prep intends a ceremony at the end of June – but no decision has been reached about whether it will be a drive-in ceremony, a graduate-only, social-distance affair with livestream technology, or one with a combo that allows for families to attend with social distance protocols.

INTENTIONS

In Humboldt, Streeter said seniors were disappointed their school year end so abruptly. They had no chance for goodbyes or end-of-the-year rituals, he said. Still, he and his fellow administrators are proud their graduates are “solution-oriented” amid the unthinkable.

“They were realistic and pragmatic,” said Streeter who with Principal Kort Miner held Zoom meetings with Student Council and senior leaders to formalize a graduation date.

“At this point, the logistics and planning for the ceremony will depend on federal and state guidelines as well as what the HUSD insurance carrier and the Findlay Toyota Center’s insurance carriers will allow,” Streeter explained.

“The highest priority remains the health and safety of the students; therefore, the structure of the event is yet to be determined as HUSD adheres to the recommended CDC guidelines. We understand these are difficult times; your patience is appreciated as these plans remain fluid and based on the state’s future guidance.”

Chino Valley Unified School District Superintendent John Scholl said his high school seniors are also intent on an in-person ceremony at the Findlay Toyota Center that they hope to have in July.

In Prescott’s traditional plan, the graduate tour will take place the morning of Friday, Aug. 7 and at 10 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 8 there will be a community commencement. The Prescott High School band will perform, graduation programs will be distributed and graduates can toss their caps in the air at the close of the ceremony. A Grad Night party complete with a dance on campus will be held.

photo

Prescott High School’s Bill Shepard Field, pictured in September 2019 after the turf was resurfaced, lights up nightly in honor of the Class of 2020. (PUSD/Courtesy, file)

In the alternative plan, each graduate would be given just two tickets. There would be no live music, no programs, no cap toss and no Grad Night party and dance.

In both scenarios, graduates will have a processional with a partner – social distance requirements to be followed. Their names will be publicly announced and they will walk single file across the stage to collect their diploma. A video of the ceremony will be livestreamed.

Social media, even national television broadcasts, continues to highlight the extraordinary Class of 2020. Stay tuned to local district and high school social media pages for photos, scholarship notices, video slide shows and more explicit notices related to commencement events.

In Prescott tonight, Thursday, May 21 at 6 p.m., a privately arranged driving tour beginning at Ken Lindley Park and ending at Pioneer Park is slated to offer a proper send-off to students.

“This is an incredible class of extremely compassionate and caring students,” Bradshaw Mountain High Principal Kort Miner said of his Class of 2020 “Bears.” “I cannot wait to see them all again and celebrate their incredible accomplishments as a class and as individuals.”

Follow Nanci Hutson on Twitter @HutsonNanci. Reach her at 928-445-3333 ext. 2041.

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