There was a time, not too long ago, when the thought of holding a traditional high school graduation ceremony, seemed a near impossibility. Any large gathering was forbidden as the entire country and world, learned how to deal with COVID-19.
But in recent weeks, a few restrictions were lifted, allowing schools to consider creative means to hold the commencement ceremony.
“We knew the success of having this event depended completely on people abiding by some rules, one of those being the necessity of social distancing,” said Tres Genger, Principal of Cut Bank High School.
With those rules established and presented to the graduates and their families, Cut Bank High School is holding their graduation ceremony on Sunday, May 24 at 2 p.m. in the Willie DeGroot High School Gymnasium.
Each of the 46 CBHS graduates will be allowed to invite 10 people to attend their graduation ceremony.
“We know many graduates want to invite more, but they can’t this year. Each of them will only get 10 tickets, which will be given to their family and friends, who will then present those tickets at the door, allowing them to attend,” said Genger.
At the ticket counter will be single use masks and hand sanitizer for use by those in attendance. Masks will not be required to enter the gymnasium.
Once in the gymnasium, each group of family and friends will have a designated place where they will need to sit. “We will be providing proper social distancing between groups and we are asking everyone to stay in their seats during the entire ceremony. This will limit the amount of personal contact taking place and allow us to abide by the rules of social distancing,” he stated.
Pictures of the students who have achieved academic excellence and sports awards, will be taken prior to the ceremony. However, Genger said students will still be recognized at graduation, while in their designated seats.
When it is time for the graduates to receive their diplomas, Genger said there will be a few changes.
“One, we will not be shaking hands, but rather doing elbow bumps. This will be much more appropriate for this year. Second, once the graduate receives their diploma and turns their tassel, the designated photographer will be taking their picture before they return to their seat. There will only be one or two photographers allowed on the floor, no family members will be allowed to leave their seats to come down and take pictures.”
Angie Lehner is the designated school photographer who will be taking pictures.
Lehner’s pictures will be posted on the school’s website for family members who wish to have a photograph of their child’s big day.
“We would ask everyone, once the ceremony is over, to adhere to social distancing as they exit the gym,” Genger said. “Traditionally, following graduation, graduates line-up outside the gym in something like a receiving line. The graduates will be outside the gym afterwards, but we are once again asking them and everyone else to adhere to the social distancing guidelines while interacting with the students.”
Genger stressed, “I cannot ask this enough, we need people to follow the procedures and protocols we have put in place for graduation this year. There may be some that do not like this, but extraordinary times, like what we are all going through, call for extraordinary measures. There will be parts of this year’s graduation that is non-traditional. That is necessary and allows us to hold the event.”
If your graduate has additional people that would like to see the ceremony or perhaps one of their relatives or friends does not feel comfortable in a large gathering, Genger said not to worry, they are going to stream the ceremony live so it can be viewed by anyone who wishes to see it.
“We will have a link on our website that people can use to watch the whole ceremony from the comfort and safety of their own homes. How to use this link and the restrictions we will be enforcing for this year’s graduation will be sent home with each graduate prior to the ceremony.”
He continued, “It is our hope this year’s graduation ceremony is a success thanks to everyone following the necessary procedures and protocols. And it is our hope that next year, graduation will be more traditional and will not require these restrictions.”