The Walk Across The Stage: 
School Board adopts alternative graduation plans amid closure

By: Contributed Report | Twitter: @PGJournal
Posted: May 22, 2020 | 12:30 p.m.

PRINCE GEORGE – After several discussions, a student and parent survey, and calculating the pros and cons of different options for the Class of 2020’s graduation ceremony, the School Board made a decision.

During a special meeting last Thursday, elected officials voted to go with Option 1, which received the most support from the survey.

Prince George High School administrators realize how important graduation ceremonies are for those seniors who annually walk across the stage celebrating the completion of their 12 years of education while looking into the future of adulthood and what may come next.

This year, they hope to honor those grads, but it won’t be the traditional ceremony held at the Prince George High School football field, where bleachers are typically packed with family, friends and others coming out to cheer on the Class of 2020.

Instead it will be a virtual ceremony, with Superintendent Dr. Lisa Pennycuff explaining its goals include ensuring the health and safety of our students, staff, and community, in compliance with all state regulations while “recognizing the outstanding accomplishments of our seniors and providing them with special celebrations of which they are worthy.”

“To creatively preserve the traditions important to PGHS graduates in the midst of unprecedented challenges,” the graduation committee, “hopes to creatively preserve the traditions important to PGHS graduates in the midst  of unprecedented challenges.”

An email and automated message was sent to families inviting them to provide their input in regards to the graduation ceremony. 

The graduation planning committee compiled those email responses into a spreadsheet with about 30 families responding. 

Responses from the feedback indicated, families wanted to keep the tradition of having graduates walk across the stage to receive their diplomas, most wanting the graduation ceremony on or before June 13, while ensuring the health and safety of the graduates and their families. 

The committee looked to other divisions like Louisa and Amherst in the development of  graduation plans. 

The Board chose option 1.

Under this plan, Pennycuff explained each family will be able to stand in front of the stage while their graduate receives their diploma, a photographer will be on site to capture the Senior receiving his/her diploma, multiple staged photo areas will be included in the stations for families to take pictures, and seniors will be presented in alphabetical order. 

Families will be asked to arrive 15 minutes early and wait in their car during that time with six families scheduled per 30 minute block. Under this option, this will take approximately 30 minutes per family including progressing through the stations and walking across the stage.  

“Due to health and safety and the need for sanitized facilities, bathroom access will be limited,” the committee presented.

Seniors will be expected to be in Prince George High School caps and gowns.  Graduation caps and gowns are available through Herff Jones.  Families with seniors who have not yet ordered their attire, may contact Herff Jones at high or 804-598-0971.

Option 1 takes place inside PGHS and is spread out over about a week.

The School Board voted unanimously to approve Option 1 with a motion to allow students to have the maximum number of guests to be safe under the state’s guidelines. 

Other future events include:

Oakland Baptist Church in collaboration with Prince George High School is planning a Virtual Baccalaureate with public viewing planned for June 6, at 3 p.m. 

Class of 2020 picnic at Scott Park: Includes fun activities, such as Senior Superlatives and Games

Cook-out: D.J. will provide music, Faculty and Staff will be there to celebrate

Depending on state guidelines for gathering size, the celebration will be held in the summer or in the fall before a home football game.

Friday Night Lights: In honor of the PGHS Class of 2020, the stadium lights will be lit as part of the national “Be the Light” campaign. This campaign is designed to recognize and honor all seniors and their academic and extracurricular accomplishments. 

The PGHS Football Field Lights will be lit at 8:20 p.m. for 20 minutes every Friday night now through June 12. 

“The lights symbolize the bright future ahead for our graduates,” school officials said.

Copyright 2020 Womack Publishing

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