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Portland Public Schools announces plans for in-person commencements at outdoor sports venue this year.

PMG FILE PHOTO: COURTNEY VAUGHN - Trinity Harris adjusts balloons while waving for photos during a drive-thru graduation ceremony at Ida B. Wells-Barnett High School in 2020. Portland Public Schools will host 2021 commencement ceremonies at Providence Park, to allow for observation of health and safety restrictions.This June, families will gather and cheer at Providence Park not for the Thorns or Timbers, but for hundreds of graduating high school seniors.

Portland Public Schools will hold its annual commencement ceremonies at the downtown soccer stadium, allowing for an outdoor venue where guests can be distanced.

PPS Superintendent Guadalupe Guerrero made the announcement Tuesday, April 27, during a school board meeting.

"Holding commencement ceremonies outdoors will allow us to welcome graduates and their families to be together for this important day," Guerrero said. "Providence Park is a historical gym and of course known worldwide for the magic that is the Timbers and the Thorns."

Last year, many high schools held drive-thru graduation ceremonies due to coronavirus restrictions. This year, having a large outdoor venue will allow ceremonies to take place in a more traditional format.

PMG FILE PHOTO - An empty Providence Park hosts a game between the Portland Timbers and Seattle Sounders in August 2020. The outdoor soccer arena will host the 2021 Portland Public Schools commencement ceremonies. "It's a particularly appropriate location to celebrate our graduates and helps to support a healthy and safe event," Guerrero said.

All comprehensive high schools will hold commencement ceremonies at Providence Park, according to the superintendent, while the district's alternative programs have opted to hold their own smaller scale ceremonies, as they've customarily done in the past.

The superintendent noted plans are contingent on local health metrics and restrictions and said the school district will continue to monitor the COVID-19 spread in Oregon.

A web page with more specifics and dates is expected to be rolled out shortly. A few high schools, including Ida B. Wells-Barnett and Cleveland High School, have already noted commencement ceremonies on June 7 and 8, respectively.

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