CHICKASAW, Ala. (WKRG) — The Alabama Department of Education announced Friday that high schools would be allowed to host a modified traditional graduation ceremony, as long as they adhered to social distancing requirements.
Chickasaw City Schools jumped into action once the announcement was made, and developed a last-minute plan for an in-person graduation.
Initially, the school system had planned for a virtual graduation for seniors, and they would have had a “graduation walk” for seniors and five of their family members Tuesday, May 12th.
The Chickasaw graduating Class of 2020 will get the opportunity to walk the stage to get their hard-earned diploma.
“I’m going to walk the stage, instead of taking just a little pre-recorded graduation. Makes you feel a lot better knowing that I’ll actually be there and have a genuine graduation,” said Tyler Bookout, a graduating senior.
Bookout is Chickasaw High School’s valedictorian this year. He says he is relieved the school found a way to give them a celebration along with their degree.
“Everybody else before us had one of those graduations,” said Bookout.
Instead, the graduation ceremony will take place Thursday, May 21st, at Dotson Park at 6:30 p.m.
“13 years of work, these kids deserve that opportunity,” said David Wofford, the Superintendent for Chickasaw City Schools.
Seniors will be required to attend rehearsal on May 20th to participate.
Chickasaw City Schools was able to make the change this weekend, after Governor Kay Ivey announced the amendments to the “Safer at Home” order.
“We decided when the opportunity came, we were going to take full advantage of it. The fortunate thing about Chickasaw, we’re a smaller system. So we’re a little bit more flexible in what we can do,” said Wofford.
The school system says the coronavirus pandemic has caused planning for graduation to be fluid, but they are glad they can actually offer a ceremony.
Chickasaw High School is graduating 45 students this year. Each senior will be allowed to bring up to five family members, but the names must be given to the school system in advance of graduation. The family members will have a designated seating area on the football field at Dotson Park.
“Normally, we would put the audience in the football stands and do the graduation on the field. We’re actually going to spread the audience out on the field, in 36 square foot boxes,” said Wofford.
Graduates, like Bookout are excited at the opportunity to celebrate together.
“I miss all my friends and some of my teachers. It’s going to be good to see them again,” said Bookout.
The school system instead had its seniors come to First Baptist Church in Chickasaw for senior portraits. The school system is covering the cost of those pictures as a token of appreciation.
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