For the second year in a row at Spokane Public Schools, the pomp of high school graduation will happen under the strange circumstances forced by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The news – good and bad – went out to families Thursday.
Commencement for the district’s five main high schools will be held on the weekend of June 12-13 at perhaps the most picturesque setting in the city: the U.S. Pavilion at Riverfront Park.
Even better, the graduates will be able to celebrate with one another in one last hurrah.
However, because of social-distancing requirements, each graduate will be allowed just two guests.
The decision will disappoint some extended families, many of whom thoroughly enjoyed last year’s drive-thru ceremonies held at each school.
“We had been talking about the drive-up,” said Shawn Jordan, the district’s director of secondary schools. “We knew that was our default, but the one downside was not to be able to bring the graduating classes together one last time, after what for some students has been a 13-year experience together.”
Graduations will be streamed by KSPS and aired on Comcast Channel 17 (live and repeated) as well as at spokaneschools.org/stories.
Another alternative that was considered was to hold sit-down ceremonies outside each school.
Instead, the graduates will receive their diplomas one-by-one under the canopy of the pavilion as loved ones sit nearby.
The decision was reached on April 16, following a walk-through by Jordan and the principals, four of whom will be doing this for the last time.
“We all met, walked around and took it all in,” Jordan said. “It’s a beautiful setting, and we’ve got the capacity to spread people out.”
“We also wanted to make sure that all our families feel safe, so an outdoor environment is a better choice – that was our thinking.”
Jordan acknowledged one drawback to the Pavilion site: the lack of a nearby indoor alternative in the event of inclement weather.
“We’re going to do it rain or shine,” Jordan said. “We might get a little wet.”
Jordan added that the plan, which follows the guidelines for sports spectators in Phase 3 counties, would be intact even if Spokane County is ordered back to the more restrictive Phase 2 of the state’s reopening plan.
According to the schedule, Shadle Park will hold commencement on Saturday, June 12, at 1:30 p.m., followed by North Central at 4:30 p.m. and On Track Academy at 7:30 p.m.
On Sunday, June 13, Lewis and Clark will hold ceremonies at noon, followed by Ferris at 3:30 p.m. and Rogers at 7 p.m.
The Community School also will stage commencement at the Pavilion at 7 p.m. on June 14.
Pratt Academy will hold graduation at the school at 1:30 p.m. on June 11. Bryant/TEC will have commencement at 6 p.m. on June 11 at a location to be determined.
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