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July 9, 2020

5/13/2020 2:43:00 PM
Graduation plans set for JCHS seniors
Jennings County's Class of 2020 will have graduation the weekend of May 30, but it won't look anything like a traditional ceremony.

The event, which will be held over three days, will include a video of pre-recorded speeches from Principal Dustin Roller, Superintendent Teresa Brown, student speakers, and footage of previous choir and band performances.

"Every student will be recognized for their accomplishments," Principal Roller said in a video announcement to seniors Monday. "Seniors' photos will be displayed as their names are read out loud, just as if you were crossing the stage."

The video will be available on the JCHS YouTube Channel and the JCHS Facebook page, as well as the school's website. Also, it will be aired on local cable channels several times through the week of Friday, May 29, through June 5.

"My goal was to hold out, and I apologize to anyone who is frustrated by this," Roller told seniors in a video announcement Monday.

"I know it's not what we all had hoped for, but we have worked with our county health department, looked at the state guidelines and recommendations from the CDC. We think we have come up with a plan that, while not traditional, can still honor our seniors in the best way possible."

With 239 seniors graduating, Roller said even if crowds of up to 250 people are allowed as of July 4, there are no guarantees that the governor's "Back on Track" plan will be successful enough to meet that goal. He said even the football field would pose problems, mostly for maintaining social distancing guidelines with families who might attend.

"I don't want to hold off" and postpone an in-person event until later in the summer, "and then have our students not get a chance to cross the stage," Roller said.

So, in addition to the video, seniors will have the opportunity to sign up for their own individual stage-crossing moment that weekend, during which Roller, Brown and senior class sponsors will be on hand to give out diplomas.

Up to 90 seniors may sign up for their given time slot from 3-8 p.m. Friday, May 29; 140 seniors can sign up for a time slot from 1-8 p.m. Saturday, May 30; and another 90 seniors may sign up for a time slot from 1-6 p.m. Sunday, May 31.

There will be a two-car maximum for each senior and family members, Roller said. Vehicles will enter at the Middle School Road entrance and then be directed by staff and North Vernon police officers to the the parking lot on the west side of the JCHS gymnasium, where they can queue up to enter the gym.

As one senior enters with family to walk across the stage and get a diploma, another senior and family will wait their turn at the entrance. As the sessions progress, Roller said, it will be imperative that everyone remain in their vehicles while waiting for their senior's turn.

"I understand that this is not what we had all hoped for graduation, and I understand there's probably some sadness with this," Roller said. "But I want you to know that we're going to do everything we can to make this a special event as we can for you."

Students also will have the option of having their photo taken at six stations, which will each have a backdrop; two will be indoors, four will be outdoors. Social distancing will be required for this, as well, Roller said.

Additionally, the stage will be set up for private stage walks through the week, which also must be scheduled beforehand.

This option, he said, is for those seniors unable to get to the school on those three days, or those who are at high risk for contracting COVID-19 or have family members at high risk.

It's also an option for those who would not be comfortable, under the circumstances, to have other people around when it's time to cross the stage.

Roller noted, though, that senior class sponsors won't be there as they will be on the weekend, to read names or hand out diplomas. Rather, those will be left for seniors to pickup on the day scheduled.

For more information about how the process will work, and how to sign up for a preferred time, check the JCHS Facebook page, www.facebook.com/JenningsCountyHS to view the graduation plan video and for announcements as time slots are filled.

The information is also available on the school's website, www.jchs.jcsc.org.

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