MERCER COUNTY, WV (WOAY) – Graduation includes many traditions and is likely the most important and celebrated event at educational institutions throughout the United States. However, due to the COVIO 19 pandemic, this celebration has to be altered. Steps must be taken to minimize the risks to students, their siblings, parents, grandparents, friends, neighbors, and the educators who historically gathered in large groups to celebrate this milestone.
Traditionally, graduation has been an event where joy and cheers are tempered with apprehension and uncertainty, a sense of loss, leaving friends behind, possibly leaving home, or facing an empty nest. Emotions spill over, but the pride parents bring to the celebration make this a joyous occasion, one filled with pictures, applause, dinners, parties, gifts and other traditions. It has also been a time for huge gatherings and celebrations.
While no one wants to make changes, we must modify how we celebrate GRADUATION 2020. Our goal is to make this celebration a memorable occasion but also comply with the Governor’s Executive order and Health Department regulations. We have worked diligently to plan an event that will honor our graduates, involve their family, and protect the health and safety of our students, their families, our employees, and our community. The format for the ceremony has been established but it is not yet possible to finalize the date for the ceremonies. The timing for these ceremonies is dependent upon how quickly the State progresses through the reopening stages identified by Governor Justice.
Graduation ceremonies at the schools must adhere to the following procedures:
Each high school will conduct graduation activities on their school campuses.
Each Senior will be presented for graduation by having their name called.
Then, they will walk across the stage in their cap and gown and be awarded their diploma.
A videographer will record the procession of each senior.
After receiving their diploma, the graduate will be photographed.
Each senior will be able to have four (4) guests present to witness the awarding of their diploma.
All guests must be within the family unit and be current residents of Mercer County.
(1.) Seniors will be divided into groups of eight to ten (8-10) with each group being designated a time to report to their school.
(2.) Each student may have a maximum of four (4) guests.
(3.) All guests must be close family members and residents of Mercer County.
(4.) Guests and graduates will be required to wear and bring their own masks.
(5.) Names and contact information of all guests, organized by group session and time, must be submitted to the principal.
(6.) Student groups and their guests will be asked to park in a designated area of the parking lot, and a specific entrance for accessing and departing the building will be identified.
(7.) Guests will be organized into seating clusters of four (4) and must maintain a physical distance of ten (10) feet or more from other guests.
(8.) All participants and guests will be limited to accessing only the portion of the building being used for this ceremony; all restrooms will be closed.
(9.) Custodians will clean and disinfect seats and door handles between group sessions.
(10.) Students will enter the staging area while maintaining a minimum of six (6) feet of separation.
(11.) Each student will cross the stage after his/her name is called and be presented with a diploma. Students may remove their mask during this portion of the ceremony.
(12.) Before exiting the stage, students will pause for a photograph that Mercer County Schools will later present to the student as an 8×10 photograph.
(13.) The traditional senior walk across the stage, and the diploma presentation will be
(14.) All graduation speakers will present their remarks individually and be videoed.
(15.) All video segments will be edited to create a final compilation that will be presented as a continuous stream during an on-line event. All students will receive a copy of the video. Compilation at a later date.
(16.) At the conclusion of each group’s session groups will be asked to exit the building and go directly to their vehicles in order to allow the next scheduled group access.
Realizing that these adjustments are difficult for everyone, Mercer County Schools will provide a videotape of the complete ceremony for each graduate. Yard signs with each graduate’s picture and school will be displayed at his/her high school. At the conclusion of the ceremonies, students will receive their yard sign.
Every graduate will also be photographed during their portion of the ceremony, and an 8 X 10 photograph will be provided to the family.