May 6, 2020
Dear Parents and Students,
In reviewing the results of our graduation survey, it is evident that most of you prefer a traditional face-to-face graduation ceremony. This is certainly what we all would have wanted and expected would happen on May 24th of this year. However, due to COVID- 19 and social distancing safety practices we must unfortunately change course. Given current information, although we are slowly starting to open our State and communities for business and some activities, the social distancing and group gathering rules will likely still apply for some time. If we were to hold a traditional graduation, even limiting attendance, the group gathering size would far exceed the safety guidelines. We are still unsure when these guidelines will allow for such gatherings even if we plan a ceremony later in the summer.
It is tradition in St. Marys to honor our graduates on Memorial Day weekend. We want to continue this tradition and dedicate May 24th as the graduation day for St. Marys High School graduates! In order to do this now, we must think outside the box. Although a virtual graduation is not what we had envisioned for this year, please keep in mind this does not have to mean simply presenting a slide show of graduates. We have received some ideas and feedback from parents and community members who agree we can make our graduation special. St. Marys High School is planning to host “Senior Celebration Week” this year to honor our seniors and we will be encouraging our community to get involved! We will ask that residents and businesses decorate and display purple and gold in their honor! SMHS will be planning activities each day of the week leading up to graduation beginning the week of May 18th. These activities will be announced to the public soon!
We plan to hold graduation on our original date, May 24th. In consultation with the Mid-Ohio Valley Health Department, we determined that if graduates, parents and guests remain in their car and practice all safety guidelines, we can hold a unique ceremony for our graduates in our SMHS parking lot! We plan to allow our honor graduates (Valedictorian, Salutatorians) and Historian to all have the opportunity to speak and address their classmates just as they would during a traditional graduation ceremony. Due to space concerns (every other parking space), each graduate would be allowed up to two cars to attend the event. Cars/guests will be directed to parking spaces and expected to remain in their cars at all times. By spacing cars, guests will be able to have windows open to hear the ceremony. We will also be livestreaming the entire event for all friends and community members to also view. Following the speakers, class song, flag presentation, etc., students and their guests will be directed to drive to the front entrance of the school to receive their diploma. We will have a photographer set up to capture the moment. So that weather does not impact our day, our plan is to hold the ceremony at 1:00 p.m. on 5/24 and if rain occurs, we can continue to move the time later into the afternoon if needed.
Our goal is for the class to be together for this special occasion, even if it must be in a very different manner. We realize holding the ceremony in this manner may take additional time, please be patient as every graduate deserves to be recognized.
We are extremely proud of our seniors and their accomplishments. They deserve to be celebrated and recognized in the best manner we can safely do so at this time! If we learn later in the summer that we can gather for a traditional ceremony, we will plan to do so. However, many students have entered the workforce, are planning to attend college in the fall or will be departing for the military soon. Therefore, let’s honor our seniors on our original date for graduation now and plan to spend the afternoon at St. Marys High School on May 24th celebrating them!
More specific information will be forthcoming. Parking spaces will be reserved for students on a first come first served basis. Each student will be assigned two parking spaces and will be assigned tickets for each car. In order to see their graduate receive the diploma, the cars should arrive together to be parked together. Otherwise, they will not be in line to do so. If two spaces are not necessary, we encourage just one car per graduate as this will allow for better visibility and a shorter wait time for each car.