Center High School: Project Graduation, commencement plans moving forward
Graduation plans for Center High School's class of 2020 are moving forward to a June 1 commencement date.
While many traditional end-of-school year senior events have been postponed or cancelled due to the COVID-19/coronavirus pandemic, parents of the CHS Class of 2020 are planning Project Graduation from 7-8 p.m. Friday, May 22.
The event will be a drive-through celebration in honor of the graduates, according to organizing parents.
“There will be a table located in the circle drive at the front of the high school where students will drive through and pick up a few tokens of appreciation from local donors,” they said.
“We are encouraging parents, teachers and staff, and any supporters of our SENIORS to line the drive as these SENIORS drive through,” organizers said. “Bring a sign to congratulate the CHS Class of 2020 or just stand on the side of the drive and wave at them!”
For questions you may message the Project Graduation Committee on Facebook @CHS Project Graduation or on Instagram @chs_936projectgrad
For the Class of 2020 graduation on June 1, the plans include a scenario which will allow graduates to make the traditional walk across the stage to receive their diplomas — with some strict COVID-19 era guidelines in place, according to Arnie Kelley, Center ISD interim superintendent.
Attendance will be limited with each graduate being issued five tickets to pass out to family or friends to attend, he said at a May 14 CISD Board of Trustees meeting.
“I think we have a good plan,” Kelley said. Guests will be seated on the home side of Roughrider Stadium with social distancing guidelines in mind.
“Students will be seated apart from the 25-yard line to the 25-yard line, six feet apart,” Kelley said. School board, administrators and others involved in the graduation will be spaced out with some seated on the stage and others off the stage.
“We're going to try to have as traditional, in person, graduation as possible for our seniors,” he said. “That's what they wanted. But there are going to be some exceptions and we're going to need some cooperation from those in attendance as far as coming in and arriving on time.”
Guests will have to sign off on a check list of symptoms and signs for COVID-19.
“At this time we plan to take everyone's temperature as they come in,” Kelley said. More information will be provided to students when they come up to get their tickets, and to family members as the June 1 graduation date comes closer.
“We're going to do the best we can in communicating our expectations for graduation to the family members,” he said. CISD Board President Matthew Mettauer stressed the importance of having cooperation from those attending.
“If they can't comply with the guidelines we're going to have to turn some people away and nobody wants that,” Mettauer said.
Included in planning and attending the event to ensure things go as smoothly as possible will be the district's maintenance and transportation staff. He said three additional security officers will also be on hand during graduation to monitor activity.
“It's going to be all hands on deck, we're going to need a lot of people to monitor, and show people the right way to go,” Kelley said. Senior sponsors and teachers will be out on the field helping with the flow of activity.
“This concerns me, and it concerns Gayla (Miller) too, that we cannot hold a rehearsal ahead of time, so everything is going to be in the moment,” he said. For graduates, attendance is voluntary and hopefully those who do not plan to attend will let district officials know in advance.
“I want to complement Ms. (high school principal Gayla) Miller and her team, her committee, for putting this together,” Kelley said. “As we told you straight up in the beginning, we will not be able to satisfy everybody as far as what they would like to see and how they would like to see it developed and come about.”
District officials have been in contact with Shelby County Judge Allison Harbison and Center Mayor David Chadwick to discuss and go over the district's plans, Kelley said.
An inclement weather day of June 2 could be used if needed, but on June 3 the crew scheduled to start work on replacing artificial turf is due to arrive and start work immediately, he said.