With traditional graduation ceremonies being canceled due to COVID-19, school districts have been forced to get creative when it comes to honoring the graduating class of 2020. For the graduates of Buckeye Valley High School, they will be honored in two very different ceremonies later this month.
First, Buckeye Valley seniors will take part in a drive-thru ceremony, which will be held Friday, May 22, beginning at 1 p.m. in the Buckeye Valley High School parking lot. Students whose last names begin with letters A-G will kick off the festivities, followed by letters H-O at 2 p.m., and finishing with letters P-Z at 3 p.m.
“Pomp and Circumstance,” the traditional graduation walk song, will be played as the graduates complete the drive-thru process. Along the route, the seniors will receive an individually wrapped Dipped Donut and a personalized senior yard sign before stopping at the final station to receive their diploma. Graduates are asked to ride in the front passenger seat as they complete the drive-thru ceremony, and only one vehicle per graduate will be permitted.
As graduates begin driving through the ceremony, there will be stations where seniors will drop off their Chromebooks, any athletic uniforms or band items still in their possession, and checked-out library books. Unfinished art and shop projects will also be available for pickup.
Upon reaching the final station of the ceremony, seniors will then get out of their vehicles and walk the red carpet as their name is announced and they receive their diploma. Each diploma will come in a commemorative box customized specifically for the Buckeye Valley Class of 2020, and each student will also be handed their class flower. Photos of each graduate will also be taken as they receive their diplomas.
Originally, the drive-thru ceremony did not allow for seniors to exit their cars to receive their diplomas. However, because the school was able to arrange for students to pick up their caps and gowns prior to the ceremony, rather than at the beginning of the drive-thru ceremony, graduates will still get to walk on graduation day as they put the final touch on their high school careers.
After receiving their diplomas, graduates will then get back in their vehicles and ride off toward whatever their futures may hold.
Graduates can pick up their cap and gowns, as well as graduation announcements, from 2-4 p.m. May 13 at the athletic entrance of Buckeye Valley High School.
In addition to the drive-thru ceremony, a virtual ceremony will be held at 7 p.m. May 23. Instructions for how to access the ceremony will be included in each senior’s diploma box, and the link will also be posted at www.buckeyevalley.k12.oh.us.
Graduates are encouraged to wear their cap and gown during the virtual ceremony and take a photo with their diploma to celebrate the milestone. The photos taken will be used in a senior celebration video that will be made for the seniors following the commencement ceremony.
Buckeye Valley High School Principal Jim Albanese said the company the school is working with to conduct the virtual commencement ceremony is one that specializes in virtual ceremonies, having done many even prior to the virus outbreak, which should maximize the experience.
“I think we have a really good plan, a boatload of hours have been put into,” Albanese said of the ceremonies. “Meetings we’ve done through various platforms, you name it, we’ve done it.”
Buckeye Valley still has a date of Sunday, June 28, reserved at Gray Chapel on the campus of Ohio Wesleyan University for a traditional graduation ceremony in the unlikely event that schools are cleared to hold commencement with large gatherings.
“Obviously, we’re not going to be able to replace the original graduation itself,” Albanese said. “At the end of the day, we may be giving this class more than we would the traditional class. But I think that is making up for some of the things they are not able to experience … Hopefully, they appreciate all the hard work and effort we have put in. We’re just trying to give this class their due, what they deserve.”
Reach Dillon Davis at 740-413-0904. Follow him on Twitter @DillonDavis56.