Dear HHS Seniors and Parents:
Since the “Stay at Home” order was first issued by the Governor on March 22, we have been working on various scenarios for how to best celebrate our seniors while still complying with state mandates. Throughout this time, our seniors never left our minds. We did not want the Class of 2020 to miss out on anything else, especially senior events such as graduation and prom. There have been many “what ifs” for both of these events. We have shared those plans with you throughout the past several weeks. Today, we are sharing important updates on both of these events.
Unfortunately, with the health restrictions that remain in place limiting personal contact (in order to adhere to appropriate social distancing protocols), it is no longer an option to hold a dance. Therefore, we are unable to continue to plan for prom, even at a future date.
We have delayed a decision on the graduation ceremony, hoping there would be some way to preserve that tradition for our seniors and their families. Our last resort has been to plan for a virtual ceremony in the event that we would not be permitted to gather as a group. Until recently, we were hopeful for an outdoor graduation ceremony at our own Highland High School stadium; however, during the Governor’s press conference on April 29, he provided Ohio school districts with three options for holding graduation ceremonies. The guidance is below:
- Virtual Graduation Ceremony:
Virtual graduation ceremonies are the safest. We strongly recommend this approach to maximize the safety and health of everyone involved.
- Drive-thru Graduations:
Variation 1: Students and their families drive up to the school (wearing masks). Only the student gets out of the car to receive the diploma, the principal says the name of the student on a loudspeaker, a photo or video is taken of the student by school staff, and the family drives away. All of this is done in a single-file line with a police presence.
Variation 2: In this variation, all family members stay in the car. The senior is in the front seat and the principal passes the diploma through the car window and shares congratulations. Everyone wears masks. The student is photographed by school staff in a separate location. This could be held in alphabetical order. Again, all of this is done in a single-file line with police presence.
- Single Family In-Person Graduations:
Families are called into the auditorium one-by-one (no more than 10 people total including the school administrators), the student walks across the stage, receives a diploma and walks out of the auditorium and back to the car. The next family enters. Attention should be paid to disinfecting surfaces (door handles, hand railings, etc.) that may be repeatedly touched. Also, strict parking management and regulation is needed to prevent congregating in parking lots and outdoor locations. This can be done by appointment only to ensure a smooth process for all.
(Source: The Ohio Department of Education and the Ohio Department of Health)
Due to this most recent guidance from the state, it is no longer possible for us to hold a traditional graduation ceremony at any location. However, we are going to move forward with a blend of all of the permitted options to create a memorable graduation celebration for our students.
This means we will be holding a Single Family In-Person Graduation with Video Recording (to create a Virtual Class Ceremony) + Drive In Celebration.
Single Family In-Person Graduation Ceremony (with Video Recording)
On May 15, 16 and May 17, senior students and their immediate families (those living in their homes) will be invited to the school at a designated time for a personal graduation ceremony. The time will be emailed to the student. It will be very important for students and parents/guardians to follow the time assigned to follow social distancing orders of the State and the Medina County Health Department.
The student will walk across the stage to receive his or her Highland High School diploma. Each student will be recorded and a video will be produced that will include the entire ceremony: speeches, graduates, music. Families are welcome to take pictures as their student walks across the stage. Families will exit out the back door, walk the hallway between the two gyms, through the cafeteria and return to their vehicle. Please review the map HERE. This will ensure we maintain social distancing and that we follow regulations established by the state for social gatherings.
Families are asked to pull up to the curb. At their assigned time, families will be escorted into the building. We will maintain alphabetical order. The student should be wearing his or her cap and gown. There will be 6 areas where families will wait. All areas will be marked on the floor.
- Hallway outside of main gym
- Hallway outside of the guidance offices
- Auditorium foyer
- Choir hall
- Auditorium side entrance
We also suggest, per state recommendations, that out of mutual respect for one another, parents/guardians and graduates wear masks to the event. Graduates may remove their masks for photographs.
Drive-in Graduation Celebration at Blue Sky Drive-in in Wadsworth on May 30
On May 30 (a date that was available at the drive-in), we invite all of our senior students and their families to join us at Blue Sky Drive In to watch the first showing of the ceremony! Students will also receive a copy of the ceremony, so when the “Stay at Home” order is lifted, they can share the keepsake with their extended family.
This event will be limited to ONE car and ONE parking spot, per senior student. (You may bring as many family members as can comfortably fit in one car).
RVs, trailers, oversized trucks and tailgating will not be permitted.
Families will receive a ticket to this event when they receive their student’s diploma. Tickets will be scanned as cars enter the drive in.
Limiting the event to one car/graduate ensures all of our graduates a place in the parking lot with a view of the screen.
Please arrive at the drive in by 8:45 p.m. Drive in entry will begin at 8:00 p.m.
In order to adhere to the social distancing protocols established by the state, which allows us to still gather while remaining separated, students and family members must remain in their cars at all times. This will allow the Class of 2020 to all gather together in one place for one last time.
After the video reveal, all graduates and their families are invited to return to the Highland High School upper parking lot for a fireworks display. We truly want to send our seniors out with a BANG!
We fully recognize that nothing can replace the traditional graduation ceremony. We hope that by providing the opportunity for students to walk across the stage, receive their diploma and gather as a class, this celebration will be something they can remember for years to come.
Principal, Highland High School