The 202 students in the Rocky River High School class of 2020 will hear their names called, but they won’t walk across the stage to get their diplomas. Their commencement ceremony will be completely online.
At 5 p.m. June 5, the school district will post a graduation ceremony in video format on YouTube. The nontraditional commencement will protect staff, students and family, officials said.
“I know that other schools are hosting commencements where students can get their diplomas and walk in 10-minute intervals, but we were worried about traffic congestion as families arrived to celebrate,” said Principal Rob Winton. “I didn’t want to put anyone at risk while we held our commencement.”
The commencement video will include speeches from Winton, Superintendent Michael Shoaf and seniors Melony Ahmetpahic and Jack Sieruptowski, who were selected through online auditions. Music will also be a part of the video, including songs performed by the high school choir and band and a rendition of Miley Cyrus’s “Wherever I go” by Chloe Hansen and Nadine El Babh.
A slideshow with photos of the seniors will be shown. The graduates will receive their diplomas before the video’s release on June 1, when they return their school supplies and clear their lockers out for the summer, Winton said.
School officials began looking for graduation alternatives in March when schools across Ohio were ordered closed. The district considered three strategies to honor its students: a virtual ceremony; having the students walk in intervals; or choosing a later date and hoping the ceremony could be held then. After school officials spoke with the senior class representatives, they agreed that a virtual commencement was the best approach, Winton said.
“I’m excited that we’re still able to do something,” said senior class President Kate Davis. “It’s not ideal, but I’m excited to do something online because we still get that sense of closure that the ceremony provides. Having events move to online has become more of the norm. It’s definitely tough because for 13 years we were expecting to walk across the stage.”
After the video goes live on June 5, the seniors will have a police-led parade of student cars through the city beginning at 7 p.m District officials are still working out details involving the parade route, spokesperson Greg Murphy said.
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