Gordon County Schools, in collaboration with Gordon Central High School and Sonoraville High School, is pleased to release additional details concerning graduation plans for commencement ceremonies to be held June 26 and 27 at Ratner Stadium and The Furnace, respectively. In order to provide the safest event adhering to health and safety guidelines and recommendations, our graduation plans have been finalized with procedures meant to best serve our community and create a memorable experience for our students.As part of the additional details, we are excited to announce that students will have the option to sit on the field (socially distanced) for the duration of graduation to watch friends walk across the stage, while the original group of 10 guests per graduate will be able to watch their individual senior walk across the stage at their appointed time. As the guest group moves around the track, the student will join his or her family when prompted and cross the stage to graduate. Families will be able to stand in front of the stage and take pictures, and the family will have a photograph taken with their graduate prior to exiting the stadium. Students may then choose to exit the field with their families or can return to their seats to continue watching the ceremony. However, families will still be required to exit the stadium and will not be allowed to congregate on the field or in the parking lots.These logistics have been shared with seniors and their families through automated text messages, phone calls, and emails. Seniors who did not receive this information should contact their respective high schools for details.We appreciate everyone’s cooperation as we strive to give the Class of 2020 the most memorable graduation ceremony possible.
Since posting graduation plans on Thursday, many have expressed concern over what has been developed for our high school commencement ceremonies. Please know that this decision has been a very difficult one and not taken lightly.
Some of the comments that have been brought to our attention were in regard to the June date.
During our called board meeting last week, one of our agenda items included moving forward with graduation plans. The decision was made by the superintendent in collaboration with both high school principals and our board members to move forward with the June schedule. Some of the factors considered included feedback the principals have received from their communities and the knowledge that some students are leaving for college, the military, and jobs soon and may miss the July dates. The information shared indicated the June date was more desirable than July. There are no guarantees that the restrictions will be more flexible by the July date and, in fact, if there is a resurgence in COVID cases, the restrictions could be tighter.
We also know that many are disappointed that they will not be able to be with all of their classmates during this ceremony. The format of the graduation was determined based on information gathered from local emergency management leaders and the department of public health. There are many guidelines we must follow, and this model was chosen so that graduates could maximize the number of family and friends who would be able to attend. Holding a ceremony that requires the use of the stands for seating, would only allow each graduate a maximum of 4 tickets du to distancing requirements. This limited number of tickets was noted as a hardship for many families.
As the date draws closer, we will continue to monitor updates on guidelines and modify our plan accordingly, if possible. Please know that our goal is to honor each individual student surrounded by their closest family and friends. No one could have predicted this situation, and we are working diligently to make the best decisions possible with the information we have to keep everyone safe and healthy.
Realizing there is no replacement for the pomp and circumstance that traditionally accompanies a graduation ceremony, Gordon County Schools has created a plan to offer the best, safest solution for an in-person graduation experience for the Class of 2020. Understanding there are restrictions that must be followed, the plan includes the opportunity for each graduate alongside their closest family/friends to participate in a modified ceremony to receive his/her diploma. GCS requests that the community respect social distancing and constraints on gatherings that have been approved allowing us to host this graduation ceremony. (Should health and safety guidelines change prior to the ceremony, we may modify our plan to a more traditional ceremony.)
Gordon Central High School June 26, 2020 8 p.m. GCHS Stadium
Sonoraville High School June 27, 2020 9 a.m. SHS Stadium
• Modified ceremonies will begin at the times stated above. Graduates will be assigned staggered arrival times to allow for social distancing and reduce the number of people at the facility at any given time.
• The Gordon County Sheriff’s Office will provide support to ensure the safety and security of attendees and assist as accommodations are made for distancing and health guidelines.
• Graduates will be allowed to bring no more than 10 family/friends to attend with them. The graduate and his/her guests must arrive at the check-in station together to be admitted as a group at the assigned time. The group will be admitted only when all guests are with the graduate. No one may join a group after the group enters the stadium. The group must remain together for the duration of the ceremony.
• Graduates and their guests will be lined up along the track complying with social distancing between groups and advance to the stage area as each graduate’s name is called. There will be no seating as the line should continuously move forward; however, seating for those who are unable to stand or have special needs will be provided a waiting area.
• When the graduate approaches the stage on the field, the guests with that graduate will be directly in front of the stage for the presentation of that graduate’s diploma.
• After receiving the diploma, the turning of the tassel, and leaving the stage, the graduate will rejoin family/friends to exit the field and continue the celebration off campus. All groups must promptly exit the field and stadium.
• No one will be allowed to congregate on the field, in the stadium, or in the parking lots.
• Traditional ceremonial speeches will be pre-recorded and made available in the days prior to the event.
• Programs will be available digitally and suitable for printing by individuals.
• After graduation, each school will provide the graduates with a digital copy of the entire ceremony including speeches and all diploma presentations as a keepsake.
• Both ceremonies will be live streamed by each school.
Graduates will be notified by their school as to the specifics for their respective ceremonies.