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Warren County to host socially distant graduations

Traditional graduations are out.

The pomp and circumstance will not be found in school buildings and school facilities.

Motorcades are in. The communities at large will be able to get some pomp and circumstance passing by.

Ceremonies with students queued up waiting for their chances to celebrate the completion of their years in elementary and secondary schools and receive their diplomas in front of crowds of cheering families and friends will not be held at Warren County School District’s schools this year.

The ceremonies will be handled in a COVID-19-appropriate manner.

The singularly important steps won’t be that different. One student at a time will walk up to their principal and receive a diploma.

However, instead of processing through their auditorium or some other venue convenient to groups of spectators, they will walk from a vehicle to the principal and back to the vehicle.

“At 6:30, a motorcade processional will make its way around the building and drive in front of the school,” Sheffield Area Middle High School Principal Glenn Smith said. “There, I will present diplomas to students one at a time.”

“One car per student will drive through the campus and meet me to get their DVD of the ceremony, a program to go with DVD, and their diploma,” Eisenhower Middle High School Principal Ericka Alm said.

From the schools, motorcades will move throughout the attendance areas greeting people along the way.

“Upon completion of the issuance of all diplomas, the Sheffield Volunteer Fire Department and law enforcement will assist as the motorcade travels throughout the community,” Smith said.

“The motorcade will travel to Sugar Grove (arriving around 5:45 p.m.) and wrap back around to head to Russell (arriving around 6:25 p.m.),” Alm said. That parade will also have a police escort.

The formal stuff is on video.

“We set up the virtual graduation to replicate what a traditional graduation would look like,” Alm said. “We wanted to be able to put something in the parents’ and students’ hands as a keepsake along with the actual ceremony DVD.”

“A virtual graduation for the Class of 2020 was filmed, and will be available at 6 p.m. Friday, June 5, on YouTube,” Smith said. “All the traditional elements of a graduation were included: speeches were given by Valedictorian Abby Cochran, Salutatorian Theresa Schall, Historian Chyann Rose, and 2020 Sheffield Area Middle High School Class President Marissa Grubbs, as well as words from keynote speaker Mrs. Barbara Urban.”

There are two other videos — SAMHS Pass the Diploma and SAMHS 2020 Senior Awards Ceremony — that can be found on YouTube by searching those keywords.

“The students of the graduating class were also filmed crossing the stage, receiving their honor cord – if applicable – and moving their tassels to the ‘graduated’ side of their caps, then finished with embracing their parent on the other side of the stage.”

So, each student will have the memory of their COVID-19 processional graduation and a video of a more traditional ceremony provided to them as a keepsake.

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