WELLSBORO — Wellsboro Area School District is planning a virtual commencement with a video of graduation activities to be aired at the traditional graduation date
At the May 12 board meeting, three students did question the board about aspects of the plan, which the district outlined during the Zoom meeting.
The goal of this year’s graduation is to produce a product that looks as near to graduation as possible, said Jeremy Byrd, assistant principal at the high school. He and Steve Adams met with students and parents to discuss what students wanted. Some requests, he said, are legally not allowed during the yellow phase, which Tioga County entered on May 8.
“Instead of just online photos, we wanted, if we could, to provide something that would give them a true ceremony with traditional speakers, receiving diplomas, throwing their hat in the air,” said Superintendent Dr. Brenda Freeman.
More than 25 people would constitute a gathering and could have ramifications for the entire county.
“If schools are in the yellow and do not comply with regulations, the governor has said he will walk us back into the red,” said Freeman. “I will not be that person to walk our county back into the red.”
Based on their feedback, administrators discovered students wanted to have speakers, to stand beneath the flower-decorated arch while photos are taken, walk across a stage to get their diploma, move their tassel and throw their graduation caps into the air.
“This is the only one we could make work which is as close to what seniors told us they want,” said Byrd.
The school partnered with the Wellsboro Home Page Network to provide a video. The video will go live in YouTube at 7 p.m. Friday, June 5. Students can also acquire a copy of the video.
To complete the project in time for the June 5 virtual commencement, seniors will assemble in groups of 20 at set times next Wednesday, May 20. Initially, the district suggested groups based on alphabetical order. Students requested they get to choose who they walk with, and the district was able to revise that plan.
Parents may attend their child’s group, watching from the grandstand using appropriate social distancing.
Wearing their caps and gowns and a mask, students will process onto the field. They will be able to remove their mask when standing beneath the arch for a photo, cross the stage for their diploma and exit into another area. When the group has all received their diploma, students will move their tassel and throw their cap into the air.
John Dy will be the guest speaker, along with speeches from Superintendent Dr. Brenda Freeman, administrators, the valedictorian and others.
The video footage will be edited to appear as one long procession with speeches incorporated at the traditional spots.
At 2 p.m. Friday, May 22, seniors will assemble for their “last day” of school, traditionally including a parade through town of decorated vehicles and blowing horns. Students will arrive in their decorated vehicles and line up behind state Rep. Clint Owlett, who will serve as the grand marshall.
The group will then parade from the high school to all four school buildings in the district. Teachers will be lined up outside the school waving at seniors.
The Gazette will have photographers at both the May 20 and 22 events to share activities in the print and online products.
In other business, the district approved three memorandums of understanding with its bus and van contractors. Under Act 13 2020, the district is allowed to renegotiate transportation contracts and, as long as the contractor retains its drivers on the payroll, pay 85% of the state formula for transportation costs. The memorandums were approved with Benedict’s Bus Service LLC, Niles Transportation Inc. and Ricahrd Correll.