Shoemaker offers graduation ceremony update

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MHS principal Peg Shoemaker updated the Board of Eduation at its regular meeting on Monday, June 22 on the plans for a graduation ceremony in July.  

Board president Annette Ashley presided over the meeting at the District Services Center, while other Board members participated remotely. The School Board has held six virtual meetings since mid-March.
 
A team of administrators and staff, including those involved in communications and video, are planning the graduation ceremony. Superintendent Dana Monogue reminded the Board the District will need to adhere to the Forward Dane Plan, which is currently in Phase 2. There is hope Dane County will be in Phase 3, which would allow for 250 people at an outdoor event, on July 25 when the ceremony is planned to be  held.  

Shoemaker noted there are more than 10 people on the team, which has been meeting for more than a month. The goal is to create an opportunity for students to have a celebration and walk across the stage and for families to have an opportunity to see that.
 
"We know how important this is for students and families,'' she said.  

Shoemaker stressed the high schools will follow whatever guidelines are in place and that participants will  practice social distancing, proper spacing, and even wear face masks, if necessary. The Board was reminded graduation ceremony plans must be shared with Public Health Madison & Dane County officials. PHMDC will determine how many people can be in attendance at Breitenbach Stadium.
 
The No. 1 priority is making sure students have a ceremony, Shoemaker said. Depending on the numbers allowed by PHMDC, seniors may be able to have 2-4 guests at the ceremony.    

Shoemaker noted it is probably unlikely the District will be able hold a full in-person graduation ceremony with 500-plus members of the Class of 2020 and their families. The planning team is working on three possible plans: one involving 50-100 students at a time, another involving 50-100 students at a time along with 2-4 guests, and a third that would involve a drive-by ceremony.  
 
No matter what ceremony is used the event will be live-streamed for those who can't attend. The first two plans would allow seniors to process in, hear the National Anthem, hear a few short remarks from administrators, received their diploma on stage, and recess out. A drive-by ceremony would likely only be held if Dane County goes back to Phase 1 with limits of 25 people in an outdoor venue.
 
Shoemaker noted the media production department is working with student and staff speakers and will have a video available after July 25 that also includes parts of the live stream. The planning team also will survey seniors and their families next week to get their thoughts, including how many plan to participate.

"We feel like we have a really good, solid plan to pivot either way,'' she said.