Graduation information updates arrive; What attendees should know

Social+studies+teacher+Christy+Rice+packs+and+helps+distribute+bags+with+graduation+caps%2C+gowns%2C+stoles%2C+ribbons%2C+and+more+to+seniors+on+May+22+during+Unity+Day.

Photo by Jason Goode

Social studies teacher Christy Rice packs and helps distribute bags with graduation caps, gowns, stoles, ribbons, and more to seniors on May 22 during Unity Day.

June 3 will be a big day for seniors in the Class of 2021. As the school year closes out, graduation will represent the culmination of four hard years of work, navigating social situations, determining interests and figuring out next steps. A momentous occasion such as this takes planning and the latest updates and information concerning how families will and should prepare have seemed to solidify.

On May 12, parents were sent a link to a graduation information webinar for how graduation would be conducted, in a presentation by graduation coordinator Christina Rice with help from Principal Kimberly Boldon. May 19 was when Montgomery County sent out a community update regarding “new health guidelines” that would affect these plans. “We received notification that the county had moved into phase II of the reopening efforts,” Boldon said. 

There was more flexibility on some of the restrictions that were coming down regarding masks, regarding social distancing, and the number of participants that can be at outdoor gatherings.”

— Kimberly Boldon

With this new phase of reopening, “there was more flexibility on some of the restrictions that were coming down regarding masks, regarding social distancing, and the number of participants that can be at outdoor gatherings,” Boldon said.

Prior to graduation on June 2 there will be an 11 a.m. webinar where plans for graduation will be gone over and sections will meet to make sure names will be pronounced correctly on graduation day. “The day before graduation we will have videos to share with everybody of exactly where people are going, to help students visualize what the day-of will be like,” Rice said.

The link should be sent out in “multiple ways” to maximize the number of people attending and to make sure everyone has access to this resource. If a person is unable to attend then they will still be able to access the presentation on the school website and email the teacher reading their name, with the pronunciation, who they can find listed on the top of the index card they received on Unity Day. The link to the meeting will be sent out through ”Mrs, Boldon, who sends out a weekly Sunday message and the link will be in there, through the mymcps canvas group, Mrs. Cocker will send it out through email, and it will be the same link used for the parent meeting [on May 12],” Rice said.

Students will be expected to arrive before 8 a.m. and line up by the main entrance of the building. The parking area, by the bus lane, in front of the school will be available to attending teachers and closed to parents and guests. Due to a limited number of parking spaces, administration is encouraging those who can to park farther away and walk, get an Uber, or get dropped off. “Once graduates are lined up and we are ready to start the ceremony, students will process in,” Rice said.

While chairs will be three feet apart and facing the stage on the 25 yard line, students will not head directly into their seats. The organizers will have the students take a short detour in front of the graduates’ guests on both sides of the field before being ushered into their seats to start the proceedings. Students will go through the main gate, take a left and walk, “Down the track, across the field, in front of the away bleachers, and then they will enter each row and be seated row by row,” Rice said.

The stadium will be at 85% capacity based on the number of tickets each person has requested. Currently the organizers of graduation are attempting to find the best areas to have people sit and for handicapped individuals the decision is still TBD; however they are saying that their main concern is having an easily accessible area that still provides a view of their graduates. The guests without accommodations “will be seated on the bleachers on both sides,” Rice said. 

There will be open seating with a first-come, first-served policy. When planning on where to sit and when to arrive to get the best angle, parents and guests should be aware that “students are going to be facing the scoreboard and the flagpole,” Boldon said. 

 After walking up the ramp and crossing the stage to receive their diploma covers, students will return to their seats for “one of the officers giving the farewell and the turning of the tassels,” Boldon said.

After the ceremony concludes, students will be ushered out of the stadium where counselors will hand out the diplomas at the front of the building. With that diploma, diploma cover, index card, and program in hand the graduates will be headed toward their future.