Red 2020 tassel

(Metro Creative Images)

With social distancing restrictions and the extension of school closures until the end of the academic year, Kenyon-Wanamingo school leaders are working on alternative ways to honor students’ accomplishments.

At the April 27 Kenyon-Wanamingo School Board meeting, Kenyon-Wanamingo Middle/High School Principal Matt Ryan shared some virtual alternatives for important events normally held in May.

To honor the high school music program and allow the seniors to be recognized, staff collaborated to host a virtual and drive-in style music concert/awards ceremony to take the place of the previously scheduled band/music concert May 7.

The event will be hosted by band director Claire Larson and choir director Stephanie Schumacher, along with the help of Gordy Kosfeld at KDHL radio. The concert will feature performances, previously recorded in March, from the high school band and choir on the radio, followed by student awards and recognition.

After many meetings, two of which included senior class officers and student council members, Ryan says they will continue refining the plans for senior recognition night, NHS induction and commencement, and send communication out to seniors and parents once plans have been finalized.

For senior recognition night, originally scheduled for May 20, Ryan said they are working on a way to inform scholarship recipients of their achievements, have those recipients record a video “thanking” the scholarship donor and compile the videos and share them publicly for everyone to view. The National Honor Society induction ceremony — which also features the seniors recognizing their most influential teacher — is something that may follow a similar approach, but in a video format.

Ryan says commencement — scheduled for May 31 — is a “very” special day at K-W each year.

“We’ll do our best to make it as special as possible for seniors,” said Ryan. “Our goal is to recreate certain parts of [the ceremony] that make it what it is.”

A tentative plans is for an outdoor ceremony conducted similar to the traditional graduation ceremony held each year, while adhering to the social distancing parameters. Ryan has spoken with Kenyon Police Chief Lee Sjolander about the KPD leading a caravan of seniors and their families throughout town to be recognized by the community.

Class of 2020 signs will be distributed with caps and gowns for families to place in their yards. The large area of space in front of the high school could be used to their advantage so everyone is able to spread out. Microphone amps could be used throughout the space to provide good coverage. However, Ryan said they will need to develop an inclement weather plan, since the proposal is “very” weather dependent.

Board member Tonya Craig said it would be a good idea to figure out how to make it work outside.

“What I’ve just shared falls in line with what some of our neighbors are doing,” Ryan said. “We will continue to develop more ideas and take ideas of what other schools are doing to create a plan that best fits our needs.”

Reach reporter Michelle Vlasak at 507-333-3128 or follow her on Twitter @apgmichelle. ©Copyright 2020 APG Media of Southern Minnesota. All rights reserved.

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