Although the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic has altered graduation ceremonies for Dublin City Schools' three high schools, students and teachers have found ways to preserve the musical traditions associated with the events.
By using video and sound-editing technology, all three high schools will feature student musical performances in their prerecorded graduation ceremony videos that will be posted on the district's website, dublinschools.net, and social-media channels.
The Coffman and Jerome high school bands will be featured in their respective videos performing the processional "Pomp and Circumstance" by Sir Edward Elgar, while the Scioto High School choir will perform the school song "Irish Forever."
As part of online learning, band students have been using the tool Smart Music to record themselves playing a song and then see every note they played right or wrong, Coffman band director Jeremy Bradstreet said. The program is available free due to the pandemic.
Smart Music included a recording of "Pomp and Circumstance" in its library, and students were asked to record themselves playing as part of an assignment, Bradstreet said. They were told to either dress in Coffman attire or their cap and gown if they were seniors.
About 120 students participated, Bradstreet said.
"To be able to group everyone together virtually isn't exactly a performance," Bradstreet said, but seeing the band back together again brought joy to parents and students.
Ellie Abbott, an 18-year-old Coffman senior and trombone player in the symphonic band, said the video created one last memory to add to others she and her classmates have made throughout their four years in band.
"It makes the (graduation) ceremony have more meaning to me," she said.
Jason Nippert, assistant band director at Coffman, said he used the Garage Band program to mix the audio together and assembled the videos together via Final Cut Pro video-editing software. On May 4 and 5, he downloaded the students' submissions. Over the next two days, he worked on the audio, which primarily was focused on making some students louder and others softer. He worked on the video for the remainder of the week.
Garage Band also came in handy for Jeff Chesser, Scioto's assistant band director and choir director, as he edited sound on submitted videos from the high school's choir members singing "Irish Forever."
Chesser said a video with lyrics to the song accompanied by the students' singing would be used in the school's ceremonial video.
About 40 students participated, Chesser said.
He sent them a music track to sing along to, although the recorded performance is performed a cappella.
The recording is something students will have as a keepsake forever, he said.
"This is going to be a really neat video," he said.
Whereas online education in general is new for students, music is a particular challenge because it's so collaborative, Jerome High School band director Brian Stevens said.
The students record their own parts but do not hear the final product until Stevens assembles it.
"So it's really a strange process for them," he said.
About two weeks ago, nearly 70 students participated in a collaborative video of the school's fight song for senior Nick Butler right before he left the hospital after having the coronavirus, Stevens said.
The students played with a metronome and recorded themselves playing on their phones and then uploaded the videos to Google Drive, Stevens said.
He said he used Final Cut Pro for video edits and Garage Band for audio.
"It was a big learning curve to learn the technology and the video editing," he said.
He said a similar process would be used to have 50 senior band members play "Pomp and Circumstance" for Jerome's graduation video.
After receiving updated health recommendations, Dublin City Schools leaders altered the schedule of graduation events for the district's seniors. The district will release a recorded video for each of the three high schools at 3 p.m. Saturday, May 23, and the videos will include student speakers and performances, according to a May 7 email to parents.
The links then will be posted on the district's website and on its social-media platforms.
Beginning at 1 p.m. Sunday, May 24, seniors will participate in concurrent drive-thru processions at each high school. They will cross an outdoor stage and receive their diplomas in person, according to the email. The events will incorporate social-distancing practices and are expected to occur in phases, with students organized by times, over several hours.
Coffman has 493 expected graduates, Jerome has 483, and Scioto has 320, district spokesman Doug Baker said.
The district previously had planned in-person graduation ceremonies for July.