SUNBURY — Administration at Big Walnut Local Schools has outlined plans for the senior class in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“You have worked hard for 13 years to get to graduation,” wrote Superintendent Angie Hamberg and BWHS Principal Andy Jados in a letter to the community dated April 3. “Your families and our staff members are all so proud of you and can’t wait to celebrate this huge milestone with you. You will have a graduation.”
For the time being, Saturday, May 16, is still slated as the graduation ceremony date. The reason is Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine has indicated school closures will continue through Friday, May 1. However, based on DeWine’s recent comments, the district thinks “the closure will go through the end of the school year.”
The last day for underclassmen was supposed to be May 21.
If the school closures are extended through the end of the 2019-2020 school year, the district has a backup date: Saturday, July 25, at 8 p.m. in the football stadium.
The senior prom was previously scheduled for April 25. The new date is Friday, July 17, at Villa Milano in Columbus.
“You absolutely deserve a senior prom,” Hamberg and Jados wrote. “We will do everything in our power to make sure that prom takes place, as long as we can do so within the parameters of the government mandates regarding schools and social distancing. Your health and safety come first.”
If prom is unable to take place in July, the district will “brainstorm some alternative options.”
Putting senior prom and graduation potentially on back-to-back weekends in July may be late for those going on to college, but the reasoning is social distancing guidelines may be removed by then.
BWHS is also doing a “Senior Spotlight” on its social media. Seniors can submit their senior photo, high school activities, and post-high school plans.
“We are deeply regretful that you have had to miss so many moments in your final semester at BWHS,” Hamberg and Jados wrote. “While we can’t give you back every missed opportunity, we do want to make sure that you have a prom and a graduation. Please know that we will do everything in our power to make sure these events happen.”
The district’s students have been off since March 16. On March 30, they began remote learning via their Chromebooks and the learning platform Schoology.
Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0906 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.