Graduation season is here but in the less traditional way.
The Minnesota Department of Education has released guidelines for how high schools should handle graduations due to the dangers of COVID-19.
Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton and Waseca Junior Senior High School have created plans with these guidelines to celebrate the graduating class of 2020.
“High school graduation is a milestone in the life of every person,” JWP Superintendent Kurt Stumpf said. “As we are trying to honor every JWP Graduate this year, we know it will not take the place of the traditional commencement ceremony.”
In-person ceremonies inside or in football stadiums will not be permitted according to the MDE as virtual ceremonies are encouraged.
If a school wishes to do a car parade or parking lot ceremony there are some guidelines on how to do it the safest way possible.
The MDE states online that each household should be in a separate car, those with COVID-19 symptoms should not attend, attendees should stay in their cars and if windows down comply with the six feet apart social distancing rule, partner with local officials and numerous other tips.
JWP High School will be showing a video for commencement along with a reverse parade for the seniors.
Seniors will be walking individually across a stage in the JWP athletic complex for a video and photo shoot in the days prior to commencement. This footage and photos will be used for a video that will be shown at the ceremony for the seniors and their families to attend.
As the JWP seniors walk across the stage for the video they will be getting their diploma and at a later date they will receive a free 4X6 photo. The students name will be called as they walk across the stage as it would at the regular in-person ceremony.
On Friday, May 22, graduation day, students will line up in alphabetical order around the JWP school for a reverse parde at 6 p.m. The students will have a sign and be standing at least 15 feet apart to keep with social distancing.
At the end of the parade, before the processional takes off, the seniors will let off an eco-friendly balloon.
Commencement will start at 8:30 p.m. after the parade. Seniors will get in their vehicles, alone or with family, and drive into commencement. Seniors will have priority parking and once all are parked family vehicles will be allowed to enter the athletic complex parking lot with a ticket.
Each student is allowed two vehicles, including their own, if there are people who do not have a ticket and would like to be present they are able to park in the other parking lots. The family vehicle parking spots are first-come-first-serve.
The students will stay in their vehicles for the entire ceremony that will be transmitted through the radio on 1420 AM, 102.7 FM, online at ktoe.com, iheartradio or through an Alexa device “Play KTOE Radio”.
If there is a weather delay the alternative date is May 23.
The Waseca Junior and Senior High School will also be hosting a virtual graduation ceremony.
School officials are working with Waseca County Health and following MDE recommendations to create a prerecorded virtual graduation ceremony. The ceremony will be available to watch on May 31 at 1:30 p.m. on the district website and social media platforms.
“This for us as administrators, board members, teachers it’s been a great experience,” Waseca Junior Senior High School Principal Jeanne Swanson said. “It gives us an opportunity to have contact with each graduate that we miss and to get closure. And this is an opportunity for them to participate in something and also gives their families an opportunity to participate while social distancing.
“For myself as a parent it’s emotional and really important to get that opportunity and closure also.”
The video will include each graduate receiving their diploma individually. Students will be crossing the Performing Arts Center stage in the days leading up to graduation during specific times for the video.
The video will also include the scholarship recognition ceremony.
KOWZ radio station will also be broadcasting a recording of the ceremony including speeches.
Following the virtual ceremony, that will stream on May 31, a senior congratulatory parade will take place at 4 p.m. Seniors will stand on the sidewalk around the school with signs for their families and friends to drive by and congratulate them.
Parade attendees must enter north of Walmart at the stoplight on 22nd Avenue and enter the parade from the northwest by driving in front of WIS headed south to circle the school and then will exit the parade on 19th Avenue NW and take a right to travel south on Hwy 13.
The parade map will be available on the school website.