Schools formalizing graduation plans

Sam Beyer photo/Courtesy The Bruin##Mac High’s class of 2020 on the football field earlier this school year.
Sam Beyer photo/Courtesy The Bruin##Mac High’s class of 2020 on the football field earlier this school year.

Although school buildings are closed because of the coronavirus pandemic, Yamhill County high schools are making plans to honor the graduating classes of 2020.

By district, these are the most up-to-date plans.

Dayton will hold a graduation event on the same day it planned its usual commencement ceremony, Saturday, June 6.

Seniors and their families can sit in their cars on the grass beside the football field. During the “drive-in” part of the graduation,” they will hear speeches by valedictorians and salutatorians, teachers and Principal Mike Solem.

The speeches also will be livestreamed so community members can watch them from home on their computers or cellphones. Only students and immediate family will be allowed at the football field.

After the speeches, students will disperse to points along a parade route through town. Each senior will have his or her “home base” at a community member’s house. Relatives can join them, with a limit of 12 people per location.

Administrators and teachers will travel the route, delivering diplomas to each of the 65 graduates. Supporters can gather along the route — maintaining social distance — to take pictures and cheer for the Class of 2020.

After all diplomas are distributed, the new graduates will simultaneously release biodegradable balloons, instead of tossing their caps.

“While we realize this will look different from what we are all used to, it is important that we hold these important celebrations and congratulate our seniors on their accomplishments,” Solem said.

The drive-in part will start at 1 p.m., with the parade following.

McMinnville’s graduating seniors will be assigned to groups corresponding to their elementary schools for a social distancing commencement ceremony at 7 p.m. Friday, June 5.

Groups will park in four locations to watch a livestreamed, prerecorded ceremony. Separate groups will include students who attended Sue Buel; Grandhaven and Memorial; Columbus and Newby; and Wascher.

The ceremony will include speeches by Principal Amy Fast and some of the 20 valedictorians; other valedictory speeches will be available separately for online viewing. In addition, the livestreamed ceremony will include photos of all 550 graduates crossing the stage - a montage of pictures shot in early May.

As the ceremony ends, students will toss their caps from their car windows. Then they will move out in parades past their elementary schools. Well-wishers can celebrate from the sidelines.

Assistant Principal Mark Brown said Newberg had hoped for an in-person graduation later this summer, but Gov. Kate Brown’s announcement of no large events through September halted that plan.

“We’re going to do the traditional parts of a ceremony, all the normal speeches and create a video of it,” he said. It will be released at 7 p.m. Friday, June 5. “It will include the recognition of honors.”

Brown said students were surveyed and they indicated a desire to walk across the stage. A drive-through “stage walk” will be created.

“Each student will get out of the car, walk the stage, grab his or her diploma and have their name called out,” Brown said. “Ideally, we would like it at the football stadium, but we don’t know yet.”

The school is working with the Newber-Dundee Police Department to hold a senior parade the same weekend.

In Sheridan, Principal Dean Rech said district administrators continue to consider graduation ceremony options.

The graduates and their families filled out surveys to indicate their preferences.

Rech said a drive-through ceremony has been discussed, as well as a small group setting event, where a limited number of graduates would form on the football field at one time to be honored, followed by another small group.

“We really want to do what the kids want to do,” Rech said. “We’re going to get the surveys back, tally the data, talk it over and go from there.”

Willamina will hold a drive-through graduation ceremony at 1 p.m. Saturday, May 23, on the Oaken Hills Drive campus.

“For the parents and students, this will be an event to remember,” Principal Jami Fluke said.

Each graduate will ride in a vehicle decorated to their choosing. The vehicle will include a vinyl sign that includes a photo of the student. It will be followed by a vehicle containing family members.

A parade of vehicles will travel through the campus, and vehicles in which graduates are riding will line up at the bottom of Oaken Hills Drive, where it intersects with Highway 18B, for a parade through town that will be led by the West Valley Fire District and local law enforcement personnel.

Graduates will all have their names read as part of the ceremony and be recognized by Fluke, Superintendent Carrie Zimbrick and School Board Chair W. Lincoln Watson.

While the salutatorian and valedictorian will be honored, they will not speak. A commencement speaker will not address the graduates this year.

High school teachers will also be positioned along the campus parade route to honor the students.

“It’ll be really, really great,” Fluke said. “It’s still a celebration and still special.”

The event will be livestreamed, and students will produce Google slides to introduce them to everyone viewing the stream. The livestream link is bit.ly/wsdlivestream.

“We’re hoping to make this as special as possible,” said Zimbrick.

Yamhill-Carlton will hold a virtual ceremony at 5 p.m. Sunday, June 7, the same time its in-person commencement would have been.

Graduates, their families and other supporters will be able to watch a prerecorded ceremony via their phones or computers.

The video will include speeches from Principal Clint Raever, Superintendent Charan Cline and the Class of 2020’s valedictorians and salutatorians. It also will include a slide for each of the approximately 65 graduating seniors, featuring their photos and future plans.

After the ceremony, the Y-C Grad Night committee will host a senior parade through the Yamhill and Carlton communities. Police cars and fire equipment will lead graduates in their cars as they wind through both cities.

While the new grads are preparing for the parade, Raever said, he and his staff will distribute diplomas and give them an opportunity to take pictures.

Raever said his school decided to with a June 7 virtual event to be sure to recognize the graduating seniors before they leave for jobs, college or the military.

He hopes Y-C can have a modified, in-person event later in the summer or fall if social distancing restrictions are relaxed.

Editor-in-Chief Ossie Bladine contributed to this report.









Paul Daquilante

BW . . .

I don't know if things have changed much, but as of a few days ago, Amity's plans were undecided. Decisions were being made. Principal Chris Daniels was in discussions with students and others regarding their wishes. Uncertain if anything has been finalized.

Paul Daquilante/reporter

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