Grandview Heights High School will hold a virtual graduation ceremony for the class of 2020, but the experience will be real for seniors as they will walk across the auditorium stage to receive their diplomas.
The plan was announced May 6 to senior students and their families and developed by high school staff with input from students and parents, high school principal Rob Brown said.
"What our seniors told us was the most important thing they wanted was to be able to walk across the stage -- not a stage set up in a parking lot or somewhere, but the actual stage in the auditorium," Brown said.
"The other thing they wanted was to be with their peers," he said.
"We can't allow them to be with all of their classmates, but they will be able to share the experience with some of them."
The diplomas will be presented to the 90 students in the senior class Thursday, May 14.
The seniors have been assigned a time to arrive and a specific parking spot.
Five students will arrive at a given time and be escorted into the high school, Brown said.
"We're doing it strictly alphabetically," he said. "If we allowed the students to pick the four students they wanted to be with, it would just cause too many problems logistically. The four students you might want to be with might have several other students they would want to choose and so on."
As they enter the building, each group of five students will use hand sanitizer and wait in the hallway, maintaining a 6-foot social distance from one another, until each name is called to walk across the stage to receive a diploma.
Students will be required to wear face coverings as they enter the building, but they may remove them as they walk across the stage and photographs and videos are taken.
Brown will wear gloves as he hands the students a bag containing their sanitized diplomas.
Students then will leave the building, and the next group of students will enter.
The ceremony will be compiled and shown May 24 at a time and via a format to be announced, Brown said.
Commencement originally was scheduled for May 24.
The revised format for the graduation was one of several under consideration, Brown said.
None of the other options met the guidelines that have been set under the updated stay-safe directive set for Ohio, he said.
Schools must coordinate their graduation ceremony plans with their local boards of health and police departments.
Grandview police officers will monitor the parking lot and area outside the high school to ensure students are maintaining social-distancing guidelines.
"I feel awful for our seniors," Brown said. "We have a number of different events we're planning for them, from putting up banners to having our teachers make video messages for them, but it's not the same as a regular graduation ceremony."
"There are so many traditional events we've had to cancel for our students, from the senior clap-out to the prom," Superintendent Andy Culp said.
"Our hearts are breaking for them."
"They are a unique class. It's a resilient and high-achievement group of students," Brown said. "I've told them that this experience will make them even more resilient."