Finding a way to recognize the Class of 2020
The chain-link fence above Beallsville’s football field holds a line of thirty blue and white banners, one for each of the High School’s graduating seniors. The banners for River’s high school graduates likewise hang from the school’s football field.
Meanwhile, banners with Monroe Central’s graduates hang from the light poles along Main and Court Streets in Woodsfield.
But until recently, due to the COVID-19 restrictions, it was unclear whether live graduation ceremonies could even take place. Under the state guidelines, traditional in-per-son graduation would not be allowed even outside and including social distancing. Moreover, schools were told to keep the ceremony on or near the original date instead of postponing it.
In a May 6 letter, Beallsville Principal Casey Tolzda announced that a live ceremony for graduates and their families would take place in a completely new format.
Students and family will gather in cars on Friday, May 22 in the student parking lot of the school campus. Each student will be limited to one car except with prior approval. The ceremony, including pre-recorded student speeches, will be broadcast using an FM radio transmitter. The school will also broadcast the ceremony on Facebook Live.
Following the ceremony, the students will drive to the parking lot exit, where they will receive their diploma. At that point, students and families can step out of their cars to take photos briefly.
Graduates will line up in parade style and proceed through town, circling the square and ending at the former school.
Tolzda asked that only graduates and their families – in the one car – attend the ceremony on the school campus. However, a video of the occasion will be put together for later viewing, as well as a shorter presentation to play on the football field video screen.
Monroe Central and River High have adopted a different process for their graduation ceremonies. Instead of a collective outdoor event, the two schools are opting for an individual graduate experience in the schools’ gymnasiums.
At River, each student will be assigned a time to walk through the in-person graduation beginning at 9 a.m. on Friday, May 22. Students and up to four family members will enter through the cafeteria door and proceed to the R. L. Potts gymnasium. The students will walk onto and across the stage, pick up their diploma cover, and exit toward the elementary school.
A photo backdrop will be available in the River Elementary gymnasium for students and their families to take pictures.
Monroe Central graduates will also walk through the graduation ceremony one at a time, with up to five family members in attendance. Each will have three to five minutes to take pictures before the next student in turn.
Like Beallsville, River and Monroe Central will pre-record their commencement speeches and provide graduates of a video recording of the ceremony. River graduates will also receive a graduation picture with their family members at no charge.
Monroe Central has also created a 26-minute video that includes the student speakers and will play on WTOV9. River’s graduation will also be aired on WTOV9.
Normally, Swiss Hills would also have a graduation ceremony. But due to the COVID-19 restrictions, the graduates’ home schools are recognizing their Swiss Hills graduates instead of a separate commencement at the career center.