Graduation plans move foward, with adaptations

End of year plans for schools across the nation were derailed as the COVID-19 pandemic spread. Schools were forced to close, sporting events and many end of year celebrations such as prom were canceled.

However, the graduating class of 2020 continued to work as schools transitioned to online only classes and soon the students will be graduating.

Each of the high schools on Whidbey Island are adapting their graduation ceremonies to abide by the state-mandated regulations.

All of the graduation ceremonies on the island are currently scheduled for Saturday, June 13.

Oak Harbor School District is offering a unique experience.

Seniors and their families will drive into a special tent complete with a stage and announcer at a scheduled time for a personalized graduation ceremony. Seniors are encouraged to wear their caps and gowns to have their photos taken. The event will be live streamed for family and friends unable to be in the car.

Because the county was given permission to move into Phase Two of Gov. Jay Inslee’s reopening process, the Coupeville School District modified its in-person graduation plans, said Arianna Bumgarner, assistant to the superintendent.

Coupeville’s graduation ceremony will be at 5 p.m. Only family members who live in the graduate’s household will be allowed to enter the school to participate in the ceremony.

Anyone who enters the school is required to wear a mask. The school will provide seniors with commemorative decorated masks.

The school district is asking that anyone in a high-risk health category, including people over age 60, to stay home and not participate in graduation.

In addition to implementing social distancing rules, the district is scheduling the graduates and their families with specific times to prevent crowds from gathering.

South Whidbey High School will have a car parade. Graduating students will step out of their car and walk the stage while families will watch from the car.

A professional photographer and videographer will capture the stage walk, and the footage will be used in a final graduation video that will include the graduation speakers.

“As seniors plan for this celebration, we hope they will plan decorations for their car that celebrate their personal accomplishments,” Superintendent Jo Moccia said.

“The logistics of the ceremony are being finalized and will be communicated in advance of the ceremony.”

Spectators of the event are expected to wear masks and adhere to social distancing guidelines.

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