Graduation 2020

Update on Graduation 2020

I hesitate to use any descriptors regarding the very unique situation we are all in right now because there is no way to describe what you (we) are going through.  I know there are lots of people making memes and jokes about the coronavirus (and that is perfectly fine and often funny) but I’ve personally had a hard time putting any type of humor with it simply because I’ve lived through the past 21 senior years and ends-of-school.  I know how important this time is for kids, especially seniors and upperclassmen.  I’ve always been very sentimental regarding graduation so this is a very difficult time for me and all staff members, especially those who work with seniors. 


The purpose of this letter isn’t to remind you of how crappy this situation is.  It’s to let you know that we are going through it with you.  Graduation time is one of my favorite times and also a time I dread.  I love it because of the excitement and the feeling of accomplishment that we (staff members) get when we see students finally make it, especially those of you who who have faced challenges (or have been challenging!) but have made it.  That’s the great part.  The bad part is the finality of it.  That part is the same whether we are here every day or stuck at home.  After spending literally years with students it is tough seeing them go.  We all hate this situation.  We would’ve given anything to have spent these past two months with you.  We are proud of the way you’ve handled this situation.  We are proud of what you’ve accomplished.  Regardless of the way this has ended it doesn’t diminish anything you’ve accomplished.  When we look back on history almost every generation has had a group (or multiple groups) of seniors who have been cast into uncertain times.  Many “kids” went straight from Latham and Morgantown and Cynthiana and Idaho basically went straight from their Western High School graduation ceremonies to boot camp then to Europe or the Pacific during WWII.  Almost everyone who graduated from 1965-1970 had a ticket to Vietnam waiting on them.  Many didn’t have to go but many did.  Either way, all were impacted by the times they were living in.  Since then there have been many challenges.  None were exactly like this one but times were challenging and uncertain, nonetheless.  You will survive this challenge.  You have the tools you need to survive whatever you face.  You have been dealt a hand you didn’t ask the dealer for.  You have to play the cards you’ve been dealt.  Although it may not feel like it now, many of you have overcome much bigger individual challenges. However, it’s been a long time since any of us have faced a large group challenge.  In reality, not since Vietnam have we faced a situation that encompasses the news media every night and directly impacts every single person in our country in multiple ways.  You will have the distinction of being the class that has faced and survived this invisible enemy.

Seniors and Parents of Seniors

We are going to have a graduation.  It will be on May 15.  Every student will get to see his/her friends and classmates graduate.  You will all be here at Western High School.  We will not have a virtual graduation.  It will be an “in-person, cheer on your friends, say goodbye to your teachers” graduation.   There will be pictures.  There will be a video of the ceremony.  We’ve debated and talked and called and tried to figure out the best way to add as much tradition and normalcy as possible to the most non-traditional, abnormal spring ever. 

We will have a drive-through graduation.  I obviously can’t give all of the details in this letter but I can give you the plan.  This graduation will be the same basic set-up as a traditional graduation except all seniors will be in their vehicles until it’s time to receive their diploma.  We will have the stage set up under the roof at the back gym entrance.  We will have speakers set up throughout the parking lot.  Seniors will be lined up in order and when called will drive to the stage.  The student will exit the car when his/her name is called and walk onto the stage to get a picture and diploma then re-enter their vehicle and park to watch the completion of the ceremony.  It will be just like the traditional graduation – except we’re adding 4000-6000 lb. vehicles.  After the ceremony, students will leave the parking lot in order just like the normal receiving line.  No one will be permitted outside of their vehicle except the student receiving the diploma and his/her parents to take pictures.  Only people who are in the vehicle with the student will be permitted to exit the vehicle to take pictures, etc.

We’ve debated on the many different ways to do this and this is the way we came up with that would give our kids the best chance of having as close to a traditional Western High School graduation as possible.  After talking with board members, staff members, and the Pike County Health Department commissioner this is the plan that we’ve come up with that will allow us to have each student and his/her immediate families (and a limited number of guests) be present at graduation.  The most important thing to keep in mind and what will make this different is the requirement that we all maintain the 6 foot social distancing requirement.  We are doing that by keeping everyone in their vehicles.  Most schools aren’t doing ceremonies this way for various reasons.  Most schools have too many students and parents to fit the vehicles in the parking lot.  Some schools don’t have a parking lot that’s conducive to having a ceremony.  Schools may worry that the students and parents won’t adhere to the “stay-in-the-vehicle” policy.  A virtual ceremony or no actual ceremony at all would’ve been less stressful from a logistical standpoint but it’s not how we wanted to send our kids off since we did have other options that other schools may not.  I have assured our board members that that social distancing policy will be adhered to.  I believe that our graduation will be unique in our area and we may be one of the few (at least as far as what is planned now by area schools) that will have all students present and a set-up that will allow that goodbye that I personally feel is so important.  We will be putting out more guidance and graduation details soon but I wanted to get this out to you as soon as possible so you can all plan your graduation events. 

We will be doing a video academic banquet of some type.  We obviously won’t have the nice meal but we will be giving out the awards as soon as we’re able to get it all together.  We’re working on details and will get them to you very soon. 

In summary – we’re going to have a graduation in May!!!!