2020 seniors prepare for ‘their day’

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Monongalia County graduating seniors will have a graduation ceremony.

Masks will be required and provided, social distancing will be enforced and hand sanitizer will be placed throughout the event space.

Despite concerns about the potential postponement or even cancellation of high school graduation ceremonies as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, Morgantown High, University High, and Clay Battelle High school respectively will be having them on Thursday, June 25. Not only has members of the senior class expressed enthusiasm about ceremonies taking place, but school officials as well.

“It worked out with the hard work of Mrs. Talerico, Dr. Campbell and Mrs. Devault as well as the board members,” said Clay Battelle High Principal David Cottrell. “Working with the CDC and the Mon County Health Department and those type things, to allow the students to have a graduation,” he said.

There are several changes that are taking place in order for some sembelance of a ceremony to be held in wake of the COVID-19 outbreak. Instead of traditionally holding the ceremonies at the WVU Colesium, each school will be hosting their graduations at their respective football fields on June 25 at 6 p.m. While the change of scenery is a break of recent tradtion for Monongalia County grads, school spirit is expected to be alive and well.

“That kind of goes back to some tradition that we had at Morgantown High School where we use to graduate on the field all of the time,” said Morgantown High Principal Paul Mihalko. “So like what’s been just said, we just need the weather to cooperate with us at this point,” he said.

Along with the venue changes, there will also be limitations to the amount of people who will be able to attend each respective ceremony. Following in accordance to guidelines assisted by the Monongalia County Health Department, each graduating student will be allowed to have two guests in attendance with them while maintaining social distancing. If you’re unable to attend, ceremonies for each high school will be available via web streams online so you can celebrate a graduating student where possible.

“I think that will be a great opportunity for grandparents and people who are at risk to be able to still see it up close and live so we’re happy to be doing that too,” said University High Principal Kim Greene.

Even with the venue changes and attendance limitations, responses by students, parents and school officials alike have been supportive in finding some sort of way to hold graduation ceremonies. According to Greene, the discussions of potential alternatives to the usual graduation format was discussed since mid-March, around the time Governor Jim Justice officially closed schools as a result of COVID-19. Now that plans are in place, with a rain-date scheduled as well, educators, as well as Mon County families are feeling grateful that some ceremony is taking place.

“That’s all that we could hear from the parents and the kids was ‘Thank you for finding a way to make sure we could have a graduation, that we can get together with our classmates one last time’ and that was so meaningful to us,” said Mihalko. “So, you know, we want to make sure we can honor these kids in the best way we possibly can,” he said.

Following the ceremonies, officials will ask students and their families to leave school property to promote social distancing.