WAYNESFIELD — Area high schools are still finding a way to host graduation ceremonies to honor the class of 2020.
As social distancing continues to be encouraged, the Ohio Department of Education released a list of potential formats for graduation ceremonies that include virtual ceremonies, limited in-person gatherings and even drive-thru graduations.
Lima schools announced Friday morning they’ll do a drive-thru event May 22 and 23 in front of Lima Senior, with graduates in one vehicle with their immediate family members. Graduates with last names beginning in A through G will be at 6 p.m. Friday, May 22, with H through M at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 23 and N through Z at noon Saturday, May 23. No spectators will be permitted around the school, and the Allen County Health Department approved the plan.
Waynesfield-Goshen is also one of the area schools so far planning to implement a drive-thru ceremony as most turn to the virtual option.
Superintendent Chris Pfister said the board of education put out a survey to seniors to see which method they would prefer. Ultimately, the decision came to holding a drive-thru ceremony this month and a more traditional-looking ceremony later.
“I recommended the drive-thru because we have a lot of students who want their diploma right away and to move on,” Pfister said. “Also, we will do some kind of recognition this fall or potentially over Christmas break when the students are home for those who want it.”
The plan is to have cars line up single file in the parking lot. Each car will drive up to a station where seniors will exit their car to receive their diplomas as high school principal Brian Hogan will say a few words about each student. The ceremony will be broadcast on Facebook Live for those unable to attend and over a radio FM channel for those waiting in line to hear.
Bath, Bluffton, Crestview, Lincolnview, Spencerville and Van Wert are opting for virtual graduations. Students have been invited to the school to receive their diplomas, all of which will be recorded and put together to be presented as a virtual ceremony.
Bluffton High School Principal Mike Minnig said students will come in one at a time, accompanied by immediate family members, and go through four different stations. Each senior will be recorded going through a processional, walking across the stage as their name is called, having their photo taken and, finally, moving their tassel as a confetti cannon goes off.
“These seniors don’t get the opportunity that a number of the classes have had with the whole ceremony at one point in time,” Minnig said. “However, they are going to get a keepsake of this video we’ll be producing that not everyone had as well. We’re hoping while watching this video they can see the similarities they sat through with brothers and sisters that have gone through it or will go through it.”
Other schools such as Allen East, Lima Central Catholic, Ottawa-Glandorf and Pandora-Gilboa have plans to institute a socially distanced ceremony with limited attendance that is spaced out in their stadiums. To limit time, many speeches and presentations will be pre-recorded.
Several schools have also issued statements to seniors and parents that plans are still in discussion as guidance adjusts rapidly over the next few weeks.
Reach Tara Jones at 567-242-0511.