Washington High School honored its Class of 2020 this week with each senior having personal time on stage and with their families to get photos and celebrate the 144th commencement season.
Earlier this year, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine and the Ohio Department of Education placed restrictions on all Ohio school districts so they could not hold large graduation ceremonies as a way to limit the spread of COVID-19. This culminated in Washington Court House City Schools deciding to hold graduation May 18 to May 21 and give each student some personal time to walk across the stage and receive their diploma.
According to Washington Court House City Schools Director of Marketing and Communications Trevor Patton, the entire process went smoothly from getting the families to remain in their cars until their time to come inside, to students walking the entire campus from one side to the other, seeing the many photos of their friends and classmates in the class of 2020.
Patton said each student had a chance to walk across the stage and pose for a photo with Superintendent Dr. Tom Bailey and a member of the WCHCS Board of Education. Patton noted that between each student, many of the volunteers were cleaning door handles and other touched surfaces to limit the spreading of germs. Also part of the graduation time slots was the opportunity for seniors and their families to take photos together, receive any scholarships or awards and also receive their class flower while Washington High School Principal Tracy Rose read their full name aloud.
“It has been a very different process this year compared to any other year, of course, and thanks large in part to our students and parents who have been so understanding and appreciative of what we tried to do for them,” Rose said on Friday following the four-day long graduation ceremony. “I think our staff really wanted to be involved but of course because of the limitations they really missed out this year on being a part of it. As the students and their families entered they entered to ‘Pomp and Circumstance’ playing and they came in one family at a time. We had a lot of support and help with decorations to make the place look wonderful. The stage was set just as it would be for graduation, we announced their name and they got to walk across and get their diploma as well as pose for some photos. I would like to thank Downtown Photo, I want to say how accommodating for us they have been. We noticed that as the senior was leaving they would get their typical photo of graduation, but then Downtown Photo would allow parents to take photos with the students and it became a sort of family portrait. In this time when we are trying to get together, they had a chance to be together.”
In addition to their diploma, the students also received a gift bag full of various things such as shirts, cards from the community, treats, cups and much more.
Finally on Friday, the district invited the community to come together at home to join its 144th commencement exercises on the district’s Facebook page. A video compilation of the ceremony, complete with speeches, music, and all of the regular graduation fanfare was shared.
“The hours put into the graduation from the administrative team, our counselors, custodians, office staff, and the community, I couldn’t be more proud of the team that pulled together,” Rose said. “I also want to thank Trevor Patton for his time dedicated to helping the senior celebration season. He helped make the breakfast and senior assembly last week come together as well as the virtual graduation we put out for the community to enjoy. Again, I am so proud of the work the team did, how they pulled together and did what we could for these students. I hope at the end of all this that they, their parents and the community understand how much these kids mean to us and how proud we are of them. Being able to celebrate, even in this manner, we may not be all together but I know they are watching. I know a lot of this is also Trevor doing a lot with technology, we don’t have a person here that is able to do all of it, but I know he is doing what he can for these seniors. I would like to say thank you to the community at large and for everyone who pulled together and had a hand in celebrating our class of 2020.”
Reach Martin Graham on Twitter @MartiTheNewsGuy.