The Osceola High School has finalized their plans for the 2020 graduation ceremony.
The COVID-19 pandemic postponed the regularly scheduled ceremony that would have taken place in mid May, but instead of opting for a virtual graduation that has become so popular around the country this spring, Osceola decided to wait and see if an in-person gathering might be possible later in the summer.
Plans were tentative for some time as the Osceola School Board waited to see if stay at home orders and quarantine regulations were lifted, and as they started to ease in early June, the board decided to go forward with an in-person gathering.
The class of 2020 will graduate on July 16, in a socially distanced ceremony to take place on Vesperman field at the school’s outdoor athletic complex.
“A lot of schools are just sticking with the virtual graduation,” said Osceola High School principal Adam Spiegel. “But we wanted to honor the students any way we could to the best of our ability.”
The ceremony will take place at 7 p.m. and will only be open to graduates and immediate family members.
“We limited it to four tickets per family total,” Spiegel said. “So we’re not having general admission.”
Students and staff will be spaced apart on the field and will also be required to wear masks. The ceremony itself will also be different than in a normal year.
“It’s going to be a little bit of a modified ceremony. Students have already received all their accolades and diplomas because a lot of them have had graduation get togethers or wanted pictures, and we didn’t want to hold that up,” Spiegel said. “So there won’t be any hand offs as far as diplomas go.”
Students will still be able to walk across the stage with their diplomas in hand and have their photos taken, as they normally would.
The ceremony will also be streamed online for those that cannot be in attendance, although the specifics of that plan are still being hashed out.
“We’re not a hundred percent certain, depending on the wi-fi, if it will be second for second live, or if it will be recorded and posted directly afterward,” Spiegel said.
Should weather not cooperate on July 16, the fallback date for the in-person ceremony will be the following day, July 17. If both days end up being a wash, school will move to a virtual graduation ceremony on July 24.
Spiegel said delaying graduation wasn’t ideal, but was worth it to provide the senior class with some kind of closure for their final year of high school.
“We wanted to be cognizant of people who had to leave for the military, but with the guidelines and recommendations from the state not being necessarily a solid document, we really had to wait till July to figure out what this was going to look like,” he said. “I truly think if we had been stuck with a May or June graduation date it would have just been virtual.”
Providing the class of 2020 with more than just a virtual ceremony helps restore a bit of normalcy to seniors whose final year of school came without many of the rights of passage students look forward to from the time they set foot in school.
“We felt it was really important to acknowledge that they’ve earned this,” Spiegel said. “A lot of things have been taken away from this spring. So we really tried to do our best to give them an opportunity to be here and walk across that stage.”