Peninsula high schools to host modified graduation ceremonies

Masks, social distancing mark Class of 2020 rites

High schools across Jefferson and Clallam counties have modified graduation ceremonies planned for the Class of 2020, with the first set for Friday.

Schools were closed in March to slow the spread of COVID-19. Teaching has been done remotely since then.

Some districts plan strictly virtual graduations, producing video pieces honoring graduates.

Others are putting together social-distancing parades or making use of The Wheel-in Motor Movie drive-in theater in Port Townsend and other open spaces.

High schools across the state have received special permission from the state Department of Health, their local health departments, county, and city leadership as well as school boards to proceed with modified graduation ceremonies that encourage and continue the practice of social distancing.

Port Townsend

Port Townsend High School, for example, will combine a graduation parade and ceremony at the Wheel-In Drive-In at 4 p.m. Friday.

In an event dubbed the Senior Serpentine, PTHS graduates are being asked to ride along in the passenger seat so that they may be recognized as they roll through town on their way to the Wheel-In Drive-In at 210 Theatre Road where, with the help of KPTZ 91.9 FM radio, a short ceremony featuring student speeches will be conducted.

The Senior Serpentine will begin at Blue Heron Middle School at 3939 San Juan Ave., at 3 p.m. where the graduates’ vehicles will be given special tags that count as a ticket to the drive-in.

Student speakers are asked to wear face masks that will be provided by the school as they will be the only students exiting their vehicles for an extended period of time and being in close (at least 6 feet) contact with other people.

Port Angeles

On the opposite end of the modified graduation spectrum is Port Angeles High School, which is taking the virtual route to graduation for the Class of 2020.

PAHS will post a pre-recorded video to its website at pahs.portangelesschools.org/ and social media to honor its graduating class at 7:30 p.m. Friday.

The video will feature speeches from students and staff and a slide show highlighting each graduate with information on student’s accomplishments and future plans, according to PAHS principal Jeff Clark,.

In addition it will have musical performances from graduates.

Sequim

Sequim High School, with a graduating class of just over 200, will conduct a ceremony similar to Port Townsend’s but without the parade.

SHS principal Shawn Langston told the Sequim Gazette that the “drive-in option” was the unanimous choice from the senior class when presented with the other possibilities, as it allowed students and staff to make their speeches and be with each other one last time.

“This way our folks can be together for a ceremony,” Langston told the Gazette.

Superintendent Rob Clark said that the district has been offered and will use property at Security Services Northwest, Inc., on the east end of the city.

The drive-in ceremony will be at 6 p.m. June 19 at 250 Center Park Way.

Sequim’s Olympic Peninsula Academy, an alternative learning program within the district, will host a relatively small drive-by ceremony for its five students at the Sequim High School stadium on West Fir Street on Friday.

Chimacum

Chimacum Senior High will conduct both a virtual commencement and a parade.

Last Wednesday, students were recorded receiving mock diplomas — and speakers recorded their speeches — for the virtual ceremony.

“Our plan is to combine the videos into a virtual ceremony and post it online so relatives who live out of the area will be able to see kids graduate,” Principal David Carthum said.

The district’s online address is www.csd49.org/.

Chimacum also will conduct a parade and small ceremony at 1 p.m. Saturday at the school at 91 West Valley Road.

Students will be driven up to receive their diplomas one at a time.

Quilcene

Quilcene High School also will conduct a drive-in-style ceremony. It will be on baseball fields at 294715 U.S. Highway 101 at 8 p.m. Saturday.

Graduating seniors will park their cars in the infield facing the outfield while guests will be parked in the outfield.

Principal Sean Moss said school officials are “trying to keep as many of the traditions as possible.”

Crescent

Crescent School in Joyce will award diplomas in a drive-in-style ceremony in the lower parking lot of the Crescent School District at 50350 Highway 112 at 2:30 p.m. Saturday.

Diplomas will be awarded in alphabetical order in groups of five at a time.

Following the awarding of diplomas, gifts and announcement of scholarships, Principal Therese Carroll will lead the class in the turning of their tassels while the graduates are seated in their cars. The graduates will be congratulated, car horns can then be sounded and fire department personnel will sound their sirens.

Some announcements of congratulations via Live Stream on Facebook and Zoom will be able to be heard in the parking lot via the internet. Those who lack internet access at the ceremony will be provided access in the parking lot to Zoom and Facebook. The district will provide the school internet password and the Zoom link.

At 5 p.m., a video of the ceremony will be released on the district’s Facebook page.

Tickets/car passes will be distributed to qualifying graduates on Thursday in the school office between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Thursday, when they also will return borrowed Chromebooks, textbooks, library books,.

Forks

Forks High School officials will conduct a parade with a brief stop at the front of the high school at 261 Spartan Ave., for the graduates to get their diplomas individually and have their photos taken while their accomplishments and future plans are announced.

The parade will begin at 2 p.m. Saturday with a route to be announced.

The ceremony will be live-streamed at www.qvschools.org/Domain/147 and www.qvschools.org/ .

Students will be divided into groups of 10 graduates, Principal Cindy Feasel said.

Each group will be given a time that they can arrive with their household members in one vehicle. Each vehicle can contain no more than five people.

The staging location for the vehicles will be separated by at least 10 feet, Feasel said.

No information was available from the Cape Flattery School District which includes the Neah Bay and Clallam Bay high schools

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Reporter Ken Park can be reached at [email protected]

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