The diplomas for Delaware Hayes High School’s class of 2020 have been printed and are waiting in storage.
Each one notes the time and date of graduation: 10 a.m. May 23.
The high school plans to deliver on that promise, despite the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, principal Ric Stranges said April 24.
Hayes will hold a drive-up commencement on that date, he said.
Graduating Hayes seniors will be invited to don their caps and gowns and arrive at the high school in vehicles with their families, Stranges said. The diplomas will be presented by school officials wearing face masks, he said.
He said the school district had considered a remote virtual commencement, but they didn’t think that would be adequate for two reasons.
Community is one, he said.
Commencement is a “very connected, family-oriented, community-oriented place to be,” Stranges said.
The second reason is that the class of 2020 has shown “patience, strength and resilience like no other,” he said.
Given the fluid nature of the restrictions related to the pandemic, Stranges said, the plan is tentative.
The district, however, did clear the plan with the city of Delaware and the Delaware General Health District, he said.
“We are excited to assist Delaware City Schools and honor the graduating class of 2020,” said city fire Chief John Donahue, the point man in the city’s coronavirus response team.
“Delaware City Schools approached us and presented a safe plan that adhered to the current state COVID guidelines,” he said. “The city and schools continue to communicate on a near-daily basis on many facets to support each other and ensure the safety of our community.”
Health district commissioner Shelia Hiddleson said district Superintendent Heidi Kegley “reached out to me to discuss the plans for graduation. I believe that (Delaware City Schools) has done a very good job finding a way to honor their graduates and keep them safe.”
Stranges said the high school campus has enough space to accommodate the plan.
“We think we can do it in a healthy and safe way and still make it memorable for our students. ... We’ll do whatever it takes to maintain social distancing,” he said.
He said details, such as whether students would be assigned times to arrive at the school, will be announced later.
“Flexibility is foremost in these times,” he said.
Meanwhile, Big Walnut Local Schools Superintendent Angie Hamberg said April 24 the high school’s graduation plan had not yet been finalized.
Hamberg said Big Walnut High School principal Andy Jados had held a remote meeting with senior class officers, which led to a survey of the class of 2020.
Half of the students responded, she said, with 75% favoring an in-person commencement, accepting an online graduation only if no other alternative was available.
The high school’s graduation originally was scheduled May 16, Hamberg said, but July 25 is available as an alternative.
The district will explore ways to hold a commencement while maintaining social distancing and any other guidelines in place in July, she said.
If an in-person graduation can be held, Hamberg said, “We obviously think it won’t look like it typically does. ... We’ll have to get closer (to July 25) to see where things are.”