The New Albany-Plain Local School District will record a graduation ceremony and post it online May 23, but leaders also are working to schedule a traditional ceremony this summer, according to New Albany High School principal Ken Kraemer.

The arrangements are being made because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

Kraemer said the district is determining an outside location for a July 18 ceremony, with July 19 as the rain date. If that falls through, the district has a backup date of Aug. 8 at the Greater Columbus Convention Center in downtown Columbus, where the ceremony typically is held.

The recorded ceremony will be completed in case the in-person ceremonies were to fall through, Kraemer said.

“The idea here is to celebrate students on their graduation day,” he said.

Kraemer said the district would record students delivering their graduation-ceremony speeches, perhaps at the Jeanne B. McCoy Community Center for the Arts. Three students typically are chosen to give speeches during the ceremony – one thanks parents, one thanks staff and one provides a student reflection.

The students would come in individually to be recorded, along with Kraemer, Superintendent Michael Sawyers and school board President John McClelland, Kraemer said.

The prerecorded ceremony would feature a slideshow of all students in their caps and gowns in lieu of them walking across the stage, he said.

Students also will continue a tradition called “senior staff select,” in which students select a staff member to hand them their diploma. Kraemer said photos of the selected teachers would be featured in the slideshow with the students who selected them.

“It’s just a special tradition that we have that we’re going to maintain,” he said.

Meanwhile, graduating seniors and other students continue to learn at home through the end of the school year.

School buildings have been closed since the middle of March because of the coronavirus pandemic, and Gov. Mike DeWine announced the decision to keep them shuttered for the rest of the academic year in a press conference April 20.

Although students are missed on campus, based upon discussion with medical professionals on the New Albany COVID-19 Task Force, the difficult decision was the right one and made in the best interest of students, staff, families and communities, Sawyers said.

“We will continue to do everything we can to achieve positive academic outcomes for our students while also supporting their social-emotional needs during this unprecedented time,” he said.

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