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Video albums could replace real-life graduations at Spokane schools

UPDATED: Wed., May 13, 2020

Art teacher Tom Pettoello, assisted by Carol McQuaid and Principal Lori Wyborney, paints the names of every graduating senior on the football field at Rogers High School Friday, April 17, 2020 to honor the senior class whose final year of high school was cut short by the order to stay home because of COVID-19. Spokane Public Schools may create video albums to honor seniors, in lieu of graduation ceremonies. (Jesse Tinsley / Jesse Tinsley/The Spokesman-Review)
Art teacher Tom Pettoello, assisted by Carol McQuaid and Principal Lori Wyborney, paints the names of every graduating senior on the football field at Rogers High School Friday, April 17, 2020 to honor the senior class whose final year of high school was cut short by the order to stay home because of COVID-19. Spokane Public Schools may create video albums to honor seniors, in lieu of graduation ceremonies. (Jesse Tinsley / Jesse Tinsley/The Spokesman-Review)

Running out of time and options to honor this year’s senior class, Spokane Public Schools is moving forward with a plan to produce videos of each graduate and combine them into albums for each school.

The details are being finalized, but high school principals appear to be on board with the plan, school board members were told Wednesday night.

Since the closure of schools amid the COVID-19 pandemic, educators, students and families had pushed for live graduation ceremonies.

On Tuesday, officials from Gov. Jay Inslee’s office shot down plans to hold commencements at Joe Albi Stadium.

“The big thing for them was the venue,” said Superintendent Shelley Redinger, who was told that if such a ceremony was permitted inside a stadium, it would be difficult to deny the Spokane Indians baseball team, or another group, the chance to hold games or events.

“I still think it’s a good idea,” said Redinger, who held out a glimmer that some sort of event could be held outdoors.

She also noted that the governor’s office will be sending some clarifications regarding graduation later this week.

Unfortunately, the school year ends in barely a month.

“We’ve waited as long as we could, and we can’t leave families waiting any longer,” Redinger said.

Meanwhile, Shawn Jordan, the district’s director of secondary schools, met Wednesday with high school principals and began to work out the details of a video graduation.

The plan is for each graduate to be videotaped separately in partnership with public television station KSPS.

Video sessions would be held early in June, as close as possible to the previously planned commencement dates for each school.

“The plan is to keep the seniors on their scheduled graduation dates,” Jordan said.

A few weeks later, the videos would be combined and sent to the graduates of each high school.

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