Miami Trace Local Schools and Washington Court House City Schools officials said this week they are still preparing end-of-the-year celebrations for their respective high school classes of 2020, following an order by Ohio Governor Mike DeWine on Monday to close all schools for the rest of the year in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“With the announcement from DeWine, we were expecting that but it is nice to know the answer on school not continuing for the remainder of the year and that we will continue distance learning,” Miami Trace Superintendent David Lewis said on Tuesday. “Right now we want to finish this year strong with all of our students, provide appropriate educational activities for them to get through and of course graduation is on our mind. We are considering all options for graduation currently, but we will have a meeting on Monday with the board of education and we can discuss what we want to do going forward.”
Lewis said it’s obvious to the district that there will likely be no way that an event with several thousand people in attendance could occur, and because of this, he said they are really contemplating their choices when it comes to honoring their seniors.
“We have considered pushing the graduation back, doing something remotely, maybe doing something in a drive-through sort of fashion,” Lewis said. “We are going to discuss this and hopefully finalize some plans that we can get out to everybody as soon as we can. We don’t want to make a decision too early and then have it end up not being able to happen, so we are trying to figure out what that best option is this year and honor those seniors the best we can. (To the seniors): stay strong, finish strong. I know we are doing a lot to try and honor them in a special way, we are trying to do our best because we understand they are hurting right now. It is tough. This is something they can say no class before them has had to experience. We want them to know we haven’t forgotten about them, they are in our conversations and thoughts daily, and hopefully we will have something solidified soon.”
WCHCS Director of Marketing and Communication Trevor Patton confirmed on Tuesday that no plans had been completed, but they were working on a way to honor their seniors.
“We’re working to finalize those (graduation) plans currently and we will have more to communicate very soon,” Patton said. “We have been working for the past month on options of how to honor and recognize our seniors while following the guidance of the Governor and Dr. Acton. It is important that we celebrate this monumental achievement of the Class of 2020, yet it is also imperative that we keep the health and wellness of our community at the forefront of all of our decisions.”
As the pandemic situation is evolving daily at the national, state, and even local level, Patton said the district has kept all options open throughout this time. With the Governor’s new directive Monday afternoon to continue “Emergency Remote Education” for the remainder of the school year, the district met virtually Tuesday as a team specifically to discuss commencement and other senior activities.
“We are focusing our energy on a few options,” Patton said. “As details are confirmed and become available, we will notify the Class of 2020 and the community at that time. Our staff misses our students, and our sympathies are especially with the seniors. While there is a lot of sadness and frustration during this, Blue Lions are resilient, and the Class of 2020 is a leading example of that resiliency for the students who look up to them. They have remained positive throughout this process, and we are continuing to work with the student class officers on ways to properly support and recognize their classmates during these unprecedented times.”
Reach Martin Graham at (740) 313-0351 or on Twitter @MartiTheNewsGuy.