School districts still working to hold commencement exercises

BURTON — With the COVID- 19 pandemic having shut down most attempts at typical graduation activities, two local school districts are still trying to hold commencement exercises this summer.

Kearsley Schools Superintendent Kevin Walworth said in his video blog the high school’s planned commencement date in June has been cancelled. The district is currently looking at an alternate day on July 15 at the Whiting.

Walworth added the district also has a backup date of July 16 to hold a ceremony on its old football field.

“Between these two dates, we hope to have an opportunity to do a face-to-face graduation but that is all going to be dependent on the state and federal guidelines we must follow,” he said. “With that in mind, those seniors know that we are going to do everything possible to make sure we have a chance to celebrate this time with you.”

Atherton schools will proceed with a graduation ceremony held in front of Atherton Jr./Sr. High School on June 13 at 1 p.m. unless group gathering rules have been relaxed by the state, then the event will take place in the gymnasium.

In a letter on the district’s website from Principal James Ply, he said the district knows seniors have missed out on a lot this year and he hopes they will not have to miss a graduation ceremony.

“The current pandemic has caused a lot of hardship and missed opportunities for the class of 2020,” Ply said in the letter. “You have missed out on sports, plays, concerts, senior last day traditions, and prom. The most important tradition of any senior is graduation, and we don’t want you to miss out on that.”

Should group and social distancing guidelines not allow for a traditional graduation at 1 p.m. on June 13, he said the district will hold a graduation ceremony in our parking lots on that day. The rain date will be June 14, at 1 p.m.

Ply said a stage will be placed in front of the school with reserved parking spots on both sides for graduates and their families. Each family will get one preassigned parking spot for their vehicle (please no bus, RV’s etc… your vehicle must fit into the parking spot).

Each student will receive a placard with their parking spot number on it. Students must bring this with them to graduation. As families arrive, they will be directed to their reserved spot and will be given a commencement ceremony booklet, which will include a special section recognizing those honors the students have received.

The remaining spots in the parking lot will be for other family members and spectators on a first come basis. Students are asked to bring their own face mask and we encourage you to decorate it along with your cap, said Ply.