Western Washington County school districts set graduation plans
For the graduating Class of 2020, commencement ceremonies will be different this year, as state requirements still prohibit large gatherings due to the coronavirus.
For weeks, school districts have been grappling with how to celebrate the accomplishments of seniors without traditional ceremonies.
School districts in western Washington County now have general graduation plans set, as well as dates and times for each school's ceremony. Many schools have already started celebrating seniors by posting profiles and photos of them to Facebook pages and school websites.
High schools in the Hillsboro School District will each hold in-person graduation events, allowing seniors to walk across a stage at Hillsboro Stadium and receive their diplomas with school staff looking on, while abiding by social distancing guidelines.
"Over the past several weeks, we have been brainstorming internally, collecting the best ideas from other school districts, accepting suggestions from parents/community members, and — most importantly — consulting with students on what would be the most meaningful for them," Superintendent Mike Scott said in a May 8 message to families. "Our senior class representatives made it clear that it's important to them and their classmates to do something resembling a graduation in June."
The school district changed dates and times for each school's graduation following an initial announcement of the graduation plan. The district plans to film the ceremonies and edit them into a commencement video. However, officials said some tweaks to their plans were needed to ease traffic and timing concerns for that video.
All of the Hillsboro events will take place from June 1 to June 11.
Forest Grove High School, meanwhile, will be holding a virtual graduation event at 10 a.m. on June 6.
The event will include a welcome and several speeches, including those by valedictorians, and end with the senior class president "presenting" the Class of 2020 and acknowledging seniors receiving awards, according to the school district's website.
Students are able to submit graduation photos of themselves to be included in a graduation video by June 1.
Forest Grove High School is also planning to hold an in-person graduation ceremony on July 25, abiding by social distancing measures required by the state.
Students graduating from Banks High School will participate in a drive-thru graduation ceremony, following similar procedures for events in Hillsboro.
The Banks High School event will be from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. on June 5, and students will drive up with their families to receive their diplomas from school staff on a stage at Kelly Field.
The high school is also creating a virtual tribute to graduates that will be released the same day as graduation and include valedictorian speeches, a recognition of each graduate and messages from staff and community members.
Gaston High School graduates will also participate in a drive-thru ceremony at 2 p.m. on June 6.
Students and families will be given a pass to park their cars on the football field at the school, where they will be able to observe the entire graduation ceremony at a distance from their cars. School staff will read students' names and other acknowledgments, and students will exit their vehicles to walk across a stage and receive their diploma.
Since only one car will be permitted on the field per graduate, the school plans to hold a parade through town immediately following the graduation ceremony, about 3 p.m.
In Hillsboro, each high school will graduate its students from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and from 3 to 8 p.m. across two days at the Hillsboro Stadium at the Gordon Faber Recreation Center.
Hillsboro High School's graduation will be June 1 and June 2, Century High School's graduation will be June 3 and June 4, Liberty High School's graduation will be June 8 and June 9, and Glencoe High School's graduation will be June 10 and June 11.
The Miller Education Center will also hold an event at Hillsboro Stadium from 6 to 7 p.m. on June 1 and from 1:30 to 3 p.m. on June 2.
The Hillsboro Online Academy will have a ceremony at the Peter Boscow Gymnasium from 4 to 7 p.m. on June 2.
Students graduating from the district's Community Transition Services program, located at the Miller Education Center east campus, will hold an event June 9 at noon in the parking lot of the school. Students in the program attending at the Boys and Girls Club location will hold an online celebration on June 9.
Videos taken of graduates at each Hillsboro School District event will be edited together with speeches from Scott, the student's principal, and any student speeches, performances or other personal elements schools include.
To participate in a graduation event, seniors wearing their caps and gowns must drive in separate vehicles to Hillsboro Stadium, where an entry point will be marked and parking staff will direct vehicles along the staging path.
Only one vehicle may show up per graduate. Families with multiple graduates can arrive in one vehicle.
Car decorations are encouraged but they must be made secure, the school district said.
Once a graduate's vehicle arrives at the stage, graduates will immediately exit their vehicle and proceed to the stage. Before walking on stage, graduates will face a video camera and say their name.
Graduates will then enter, walk across the stage and pick up their diploma cover from a table, behind which their principal and/or another member of the school's administrative team will be standing "at an appropriate distance," the district said.
A family member may assist a student with mobility issues, and a ramp will be provided for wheelchair access.
Family members or others in the vehicle may step directly outside of the vehicle into a marked location to take pictures or video of the graduate, but time will not be allowed for group photos nor video at the stadium. Family members must also be wearing a mask if they exit their vehicle.
Graduates will then face a video camera again holding their diploma cover and exit the stage. At the bottom of the stage, the graduates will pose for a photograph.
The graduate and any family members will then re-enter the vehicle and exit the stadium via the marked path.
The school district warned that events will be shut down by law enforcement if people do not follow social distancing protocols.
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