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Graduates from Spokane Public Schools will receive diplomas in modified drive-thru observances

UPDATED: Wed., May 20, 2020

Ferris High School senior Will Clements, along with Lewis and Clark High school seniors, Caleb Bopp and Karrigen Hanson wait in line for a free Krispy Kreme Graduation Dozen donuts each, Tuesday, May 19, 2020, in Spokane Valley. On Wednesday, the Spokane School Board was brief on how high school graduates will receive their diplomas. Officials have decided to hold modified drive-thru observances at each high school. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)
Ferris High School senior Will Clements, along with Lewis and Clark High school seniors, Caleb Bopp and Karrigen Hanson wait in line for a free Krispy Kreme Graduation Dozen donuts each, Tuesday, May 19, 2020, in Spokane Valley. On Wednesday, the Spokane School Board was brief on how high school graduates will receive their diplomas. Officials have decided to hold modified drive-thru observances at each high school. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)

It won’t be held at a stadium or an arena, but graduation could be a pretty sweet ride for the class of 2020 in Spokane Public Schools.

After more than a month of uncertainty forced by the COVID-19 pandemic, the district has developed a plan that will allow students to be honored in outdoor celebrations at their home schools.

They will even be able to arrive in the family vehicle – presumably decorated to match the occasion, school board members were told Wednesday night.

Detailing what he said has received “a lot of positive feedback,” secondary schools director Shawn Jordan told board members that the final plan is better than what many administrators had expected following the state’s rejection last week of a plan to hold commencement at Albi Stadium.

The plan is straightforward. Graduates will arrive at a scheduled time with family members in their own vehicles, probably in groups of 10 cars every 15 minutes. Only one car will be allowed for each graduate as plans currently stand.

The graduate will exit the vehicle, walk to a stage or platform and pick up their diploma. As they do so, they will be videotaped and photographed.

At that point, the graduate will exit the stage, return to their vehicle and drive away. The individual videos will be edited, combined and sent to families by the end of June, the board was told.

The video will include traditional speeches, Jordan said.

Jordan stressed that “this is not a ceremony … we don’t want this to be a gathering.”

That’s an important point following a mandate last week from the state Department of Health that laid down strict guidelines on drive-in ceremonies. While not forbidding them, the state ordered that cars be spaced at least 6 feet apart, an impractical situation for larger high schools.

Graduation dates will match the original schedule set up before the school year began: Rogers, Ferris and North Central ceremonies on June 6 and Lewis and Clark and Shadle Park on June 7.

The On Track Academy will hold graduation on June 6 and The Community School on June 8.

The plan still has a few uncertainties. It’s uncertain how many dignitaries will be on hand at each ceremony, how long individual graduates will be able to speak on stage and what the district will do if the weather is inclement.

“It’s been amazing to be a part of this process, and how our district has come together the last four weeks,” Jordan said.

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