Districts working on forms of drive-thru, drive-in ceremonies to celebrate the high school class of 2020

PMG FILE PHOTO - Traditional commencement ceremonies are off limits for the class of 2020. But schools are coming up with creative alternatives such as drive-thru celebrations.

The high school classes of 2020 won't have traditional commencements, but East County schools are starting to reveal preliminary plans for how graduates will be celebrated during this time of confinement due to the COVID-19 virus.

Gresham-Barlow School District's three high schools will have drive-thru ceremonies in early June. Centennial High School will have an event at the school's stadium Wednesday, June 3. Corbett High School plans a drive-in event on the school's athletic fields in late June.

The Reynolds School District did not respond to a request for information on their plans.

Barlow High School will hold its "ceremony" from 3-8 p.m. Thursday, June 4, as seniors and their families do a drive-thru event in the school's parking lot.

The next day, from 3-8 p.m. Friday, June 5, Gresham High School students will have a drive-thru diploma pick up in the parking lot of the shuttered Kmart at 440 N.W. Burnside Road.

Springwater Trail High School students will drive through the parking lot at Mountainview Christian Church, 1890 N.E. Cleveland Ave., from 6-8 p.m. Tuesday, June 9.

The three Gresham-Barlow high schools will play the traditional graduation march "Pomp and Circumstance" and will call out each graduate's name as they drive through to get their diplomas.

Details on speeches, photos and other arrangements are still being worked out and will be shared with families as soon as they are available, the Gresham-Barlow district said.

The Gresham Police Department does not anticipate closing any roads to accommodate the events.

"In working with the individual schools on the plans, we don't expect to shut down any streets nor believe any of the events will create a significant/heavy traffic issue. Most of the "traffic control" will be isolated to the parking lot processions," Gresham Police Sgt. John Rasmussen said via email.

"For all three schools, we will be encouraging families to honor the time slot they are given and work with us to make everything run smoothly. My experience with working several school events throughout the past few months (distance learning parades) is that the general public is very supportive of the students and none have complained about traffic slowing as the parades drove by," Rasmussen said.

Centennial High School will have a drive-in/walk-in event from noon to 5 p.m. Wednesday, June 3, at the Centennial High School stadium. Each graduate will be assigned a 30 minute window to participate and will be allowed to bring up to four family members to the event.

As with the other schools, Centennial is working out other details.

Corbett Cardinals

Corbett High School, with about 100 students in the class of 2020, has announced tentative plans to hold a parade, drive-in ceremony and fireworks on Saturday, June 20.

The preliminary plans include projecting the "ceremony" on big screens on Corbett's soccer field. There will be a senior slide show, an announcement of scholarships and other awards.

Superintendent Randy Trani said the plan is to have students walk up one at a time to get their diplomas and then return to their cars.

Corbett's graduate parade route is still in the planning stages, but will likely start in Troutdale and wind up into Corbett.

All the schools gathered ideas from seniors, their families and staff to try to craft some kind of meaningful event while still adhering to the safety and distancing guidelines designed to tamp down the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The Gresham-Barlow district said: "Throughout the planning process, the District's goal has been to plan events that allow all of our graduates to participate and celebrate their accomplishments with their families. In addition, if there are specific health concerns, this plan allows students and families the option of choosing not to participate."

They added: "Our goal is to ensure all graduates are able to receive their diploma and pose for a photo in an orderly manner that does not impede traffic. Families will receive a map of the graduation route for each location so that designated streets, entrances, and exits are used."

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