Wauseon High School plans to hold a commencement ceremony May 24 for the Class of 2020 but it will be anything but traditional.
The Board of Education decided at its April 24 meeting that high school seniors will be recognized, and discussed several alternatives to typical graduation activities. The school district is following the advice of Ohio Superintendent of Public Instruction Paolo DeMaria, who encouraged keeping scheduled dates for this school year’s commencement ceremonies.
Troy Armstrong, superintendent of Wauseon schools, said Tuesday that WHS Principal Keith Leatherman, senior class officers, and graduation committee members will meet Thursday by conference call to offer ideas on how to stage the event based on the students’ desires.
“We really want to hear their voices,” Armstrong said. He said planning will include guidance from the Ohio Department of Education and Fulton County Health Commissioner Kim Cupp.
Possibilities include: a virtual ceremony; a parade of cars during which the students receive their diplomas and individual recognition; and allowing the seniors to, one at a time, enter the high school gym while wearing a mask and practicing social distancing, walk across the stage, accept their diploma, then leave the gym. The walks across stage would be recorded, then edited to make it appear the students are participating in a more traditional ceremony.
Commencement caps and gowns are at the school, and seniors have expressed interest in wearing them to whatever event is scheduled.
“Our plan is to hold (commencement) on May 24 as scheduled,” Armstrong said. “The component of this all is not gathering in large groups.”
Armstrong, a 1987 WHS graduate, said he’s saddened the seniors can’t participate in a traditional graduation ceremony. “I think high school graduation is a memory that lasts a lifetime,” he said. “We want to make it memorable for the students. We want to make definitive plans.”
BOE President Sandra Griggs said, while it’s important to stay within Governor Mike DeWine’s social distancing guidelines, “there’s definitely going to be something, but what it is I can’t say right now.”
She said a ceremony is important because the members of the senior class have earned one.
“We’ve had the majority of them for 13 years, and they have earned the time to be recognized and honored,” Griggs said. “They worked hard to get this far, and I think each and every one them have a bright future ahead of them.”
In other business, the board members approved the following: to not renew the contract of or re-employ Transportation Supervisor Pam Waugh when her current contract expires July 31; accept the resignation of Lauren Borton as assistant district treasurer/human resources, effective April 22; fifth grade teacher April Beck’s transfer to fourth grade teacher for the 2020-21 school year; Josh Oyer, assistant technology coordinator, for payment at Step 16 on the approved salary schedule for fiscal year 2021; Rachel Drenning and Bethann Simon for a daily increase from 7.5 hours to 8 hours, effective April 27; the fiscal year 2021 administrative salary schedule as presented.
The board also authorized Armstrong to advertise and receive bids for school bus chassis and bodies under the Ohio Schools Cooperative and in conjunction with a $53,990.22 bus grant awarded by the Ohio Department of Education. Board members passed a resolution authorizing the Ohio Schools Council to advertise for and accept bids for the school district to purchase a chassis and body for a school bus holding up to 84 passengers.
Board members entered into executive session to discuss employment and the purchase of property. No action was taken.
Reach David J. Coehrs at 419-335-2010.