PORT TOWNSEND — North Olympic Peninsula public school district graduation ceremonies will be closer to normal this year than last as restrictions loosen against COVID-19, although face masks and social distancing still will be required.
High school graduations are planned on Friday and Saturday in Jefferson and Clallam counties.
All the school districts have been working with county public health departments in planning safe graduation ceremonies.
• Port Townsend High School — 7 p.m. Friday. A total of 87 seniors will be honored at Memorial Field, 550 Washington St. in Port Townsend.
The students will walk from the Cotton Building to the field in their caps and gowns and walk across the stage to receive their diplomas, said Sarah Rubenstein, communications director.
All attendees are required to wear a mask and social distance in the stadium, and all are required to have a ticket, which were passed out to students, Rubenstein said.
The staff on stage will be unmasked, but all of them are vaccinated, and the students also will be unmasked on stage, but they will be verified to have been vaccinated or have a rapid COVID-19 test, Rubenstein said.
Rubenstein is glad the district is able to put on a more traditional graduation for the seniors, as several students said they wanted to be able to walk across a stage to receive their diploma.
“Students are excited that they can have that traditional experience of walking across the stage for graduation,” she said. “Our families are grateful that we were able to have a plan to really have this rite of passage for students.”
• Chimacum High School — Noon Saturday. About 30 seniors will walk across the stage at Memorial Field in Port Townsend. The students will be walking across a stage to receive their diplomas.
All are required to wear masks and practice social distancing, and attendees are required to have tickets. Tickets were given to seniors to hand out to families and friends.
Following the graduation ceremony, seniors can join a community parade that will begin at 3 p.m. and travel around Chimacum and Port Hadlock.
This is a new tradition begun last year during the COVID-19 pandemic, said David Engle, acting superintendent.
The parade participants will start at the Chimacum Junior/Senior High School, 91 West Valley Road in Chimacum.
“The community really liked that and wanted to repeat it, so we figured, let’s do it again,” Engle said.
“I think the thing that’s most important to us is to revisit our idea of community and being together, and that will feel good for this celebration.”
• Quilcene High School — 2 p.m. Saturday. Twenty-three seniors will be honored at the Quilcene football field, 294715 U.S. Highway 101.
The students will be given their diploma by Principal Sean Moss, said Superintendent Frank Redmon.
All are required to wear a mask and practice social distancing. Each attendee requires a ticket which will be handed to them by a student.
The students and staff will be sitting in the bleachers, and the audience has seating that will be distanced, Redmon said.
The students, while masked, also will have rapid COVID-19 tests done, he said.
Redmon is glad to have a more traditional ceremony for the students, but he also welcomes the banners of the seniors that district boosters hung along Highway 101 — a tradition started last year, Redmon said.
“Last year we were able to put together a really nice ceremony … this one will feel a little more calm, especially with more people vaccinated and knowing more what COVID is,” Redmon said. “Having people together feels safer now than it did last year.
The banners “are something we learned and we really liked and is a way to honor our seniors and their families and provide that visual cue so our community can see our seniors and celebrate the graduates.”
• Port Angeles High School — 7:30 p.m. Friday, Civic Field, 307 S. Race St. in Port Angeles, 225 seniors.
• Lincoln High School — 6 p.m. Monday. Peninsula College in the field just south of the Pirate Union Building, 1502 E. Lauridsen Blvd., Port Angeles, 28 seniors.
• Sequim High School — 6 p.m. Friday, 601 N. Sequim Ave., Sequim; between 187 and 195 seniors.
• Crescent High School — 5:30 p.m. Saturday, 50350 state Highway 112 in Joyce, 12 seniors.
• Forks High School — 2 p.m. Saturday, Spartan Stadium, Spartan Stadium, 261 S. Spartan Ave., Forks, 78 seniors.
• Neah Bay High School — 6 p.m. Friday, Neah Bay High School, 3560 Deer St., 34 students.
• Clallam Bay High School — 2 p.m. Saturday, 13193 state Highway 112 in Clallam Bay, nine students.
Jefferson County reporter Zach Jablonski can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 5, or at [email protected]