Mercer County High Schools hold socially-distanced graduation ceremonies

MERCER COUNTY, WV (WOAY) – Mercer County high schoolers have been given the chance to have traditional, but socially-distance graduation ceremonies. 

Bluefield, Montcalm, PikeView and Princeton Senior High School are all holding small-scale graduation ceremonies with only a few students at a time, spread out over the course of three days.

According to Mike Collins, Bluefield High School’s principal, the schools are doing everything they can to keep the ceremonies safe. 

“We’re using social distancing. We have them spread out in the parking lot and we have them spread out here as they line up. And of course, the auditorium is marked 6 to 8 feet apart,” Collins said.

Each ceremony has only between eight and ten students. And each student is allowed a small number of guests to watch them walk across the stage.

According to Princeton’s Assistant Principal Josh Wilburn, each row of chairs for spectators are separated by family and students stay socially distant while lining up. And after each ceremony, a new group of students roll in and the faculty does it all over again. 

“We’ve been spreading out the graduations roughly every thirty minutes. Between each group we’ve been making sure that we’re sanitizing everything,” Wilburn said. 

An average class size of 150 means it would take nearly 8 hours a day, for about three whole days to get everyone across the stage. The faculty says all the hard work is for the community. To let them see the kids graduate in an in-person setting, rather than a virtual one.

One major reason Mercer County Schools wanted to let the kids graduate in this way was to give them one last chance to be together, before moving off to live their lives. 

“Whether it’s our military students, and our students that are starting college early, or going on to play sports, at least they can all get together in small groups and using social distancing they can all get together and be recognized at this point,” Collins said.

Some High Schools are also considering commencement ceremonies for later in the summer, for those who didn’t feel comfortable yet being out in public. 

The first round of ceremonies began Tuesday, May 26, and the last round will end on Saturday, May 30.