MUSCATINE – At 7 p.m. on Thursday the 2020 graduates of Muscatine High School will walk across the stage and receive their diplomas.
After nearly three months of debating and planning, MHS will be having the outdoor graduation ceremony they had hoped to give this year’s seniors.
“I feel relieved for the students that we’re able to have this ceremony,” said MHS principal Terry Hogenson, “I think that they have been put in an unfortunate situation and that they have made the best of it. It will be nice for them to get a conclusion to their senior year and hopefully a good sendoff for them going into their future.”
While the ceremony is only days away, last minute weather changes may make a difference in how the ceremony goes. Currently, the MHS staff plans to hold the ceremony in the football stadium. If there is rain on July 2 the ceremony would then be significantly altered and moved inside.
“The worst case scenario for us would be that it looks good, we make the call to have it in the stadium, and then a storm comes in at the last second,” Hogenson said, “At that point, we would probably then do an altered disbursement of the diplomas, and that would be extremely unfortunate for everybody. So we’re just hoping that doesn’t happen.”
Whether the ceremony is outside or in, Hogenson wanted to remind students and families that this year’s ceremony is voluntary. If a family or a student doesn’t feel safe attending, it’s not mandatory and all students who have earned a diploma will receive one.
In addition, there will be several new safety protocols to be put in place to help assure as much safety as possible, such as social distancing and the graduating students wearing masks. If a student doesn’t have a mask already, they will be provided one. “Once they are seated, students will have the opportunity to remove their masks, if they wish,” Hogenson said, “So, for a predominant amount of the experience, they won’t have to have those on.”
There will only be one official entrance and exit into the stadium/auditorium. For families, masks are not required, but hand sanitizer will be made available. Additionally, there will be no hand-off of the diplomas. “Instead they will be on a small table, and they’ll pick it up from there so there’s not going to be any chance of transmission from that,” Hogenson said.
There will be a minimum of six feet between every graduate as well as between every family group in the bleachers. Families are asked to stay seated for the entire ceremony. “With appropriate distancing, we believe that four family members per senior will provide an appropriate level of safety for everyone.” Once the ceremony ends, guests will be dismissed by sections to help reduce congestion at the only exit. People are also reminded not to bring air horns or cowbells, as well as to stay hydrated in precaution of the heat expected that day.
“We hope the ceremony will still be enjoyable for students,” said Hogenson, “We’re trying to give as much of a ceremony as we possibly can, and so that comes at the cost of precautions.” While some traditional aspects of the ceremony such as the live singing of “Battle Hymn of Republic” will not be included, other elements like student speeches and the singing of the National Anthem will still be in place, weather permitting.
“We tried to start with what can we do and then work back to what can’t we do,” Hogenson said, “A predominant amount will look very traditional.” It should also be noted the ceremony is not open to the public, and those who were not given an entry token by a graduating senior will have the opportunity to watch the ceremony streamed live online as well as through MCC and MPW local channels.
“For the benefit of our student body, we just are very hopeful to give them something that’s an appropriate sendoff for them,” Hogenson said, “and that they deserve. We are fighting like crazy behind the scenes to make sure that happens.”
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