The 2020 Northfield High School graduation ceremony will be held for students and their families online May 31.

Principal Joel Leer announced the decision to cancel an in-person graduation ceremony to help limit the spread of COVID-19 May 5 in a letter to students and their families.

The ceremony begins at 2 p.m. and will include recorded remarks from Superintendent Matt Hillmann, Leer, School Board Chairwoman Julie Pritchard, a student representative from this year’s class, and the commencement address from a teacher selected by the senior class.

Leer said names will be read by NHS teachers TJ Wiebe and Stephen Cade, as the graduates’ photos are displayed.

Immediately following the ceremony, diplomas will be distributed to members of the senior class via curbside pickup until 6 p.m. at Northfield High School.

The high school is awaiting possible direction regarding graduation from the Minnesota Department of Health, the Governor’s Office and Minnesota Department of Education. Leer said if protocols change and allow the school to modify its plan, school officials will consider doing so.

“While we understand and respect the suggestion of delaying the ceremony, there is too much uncertainty around a postponement that prevents it from being the best decision,” Leer said. “Our plan assures the safety of the class and their loved ones. It will also allow all class members to receive their diplomas and graduate on the originally scheduled day. It is not ideal, but it will be substantive and celebratory.”

Plans are in the works to have a school district-sponsored reunion of this year’s class next spring to allow graduates to be together in the high school, share a meal and memories in a way the pandemic is not expected to allow this spring.

“This is not how any of us hoped your senior year would culminate,” Leer said. “We know that distance learning has been a difficult time and you have sacrificed many important traditions this spring. Despite these challenges, you have stayed strong and successfully reached the milestone of graduation.

“We remain committed to celebrating your achievements even during this time of social distancing. Make no mistake about it: the Class of 2020 will forever be remembered for what you have had to endure, and how you did so with grace and spirit.”

Reach Associate Editor Sam Wilmes at 507-645-1115. © Copyright 2020 APG Media of Southern Minnesota. All rights reserved.

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