Plans for graduation continue amid COVID-19

Elise Goulding, Staff Writer

ETHS Class of 2021’s graduation will be a combination of in-person and online ceremonies, and although there have been many delays in ETHS’s official plans for senior celebrations, administrators hope everyone will enjoy what the school is able to offer.

“I think having virtual graduation is a good option for those who don’t feel comfortable going to the in-person commencement… Some people I’ve talked to recently are anxious to have some kind of in-person experience after a lost senior year. However, I also know that many people don’t want to go because of the risk with COVID[-19],” senior Livia Fredrick said.

With new Center for Disease Control (CDC) information constantly appearing, there have been struggles in planning a graduation. As such, the school is planning for multiple graduation events instead of just the standard one.

“We’re planning for probably six graduations, virtually being one, and then those smaller in-person experiences… It’s easier to [plan for graduation when we] know exactly what we’re dealing with and we can go ahead and put forth those plans, but right now it’s still kind of in flux and very fluid,” Associate Principal for Educational Services Keith Robinson said. “We are continually monitoring the updates and the requirements of what we can do and what’s permissible.”

The in-person commencements will be on May 21 at Lazier Field with the virtual commencement two days later on May 23. Each student will pick up tickets for family and invited guests on May 19 and 20. After the ceremony is over, diplomas will be distributed at the Field House.

“[For the in-person commencement] there’s a cap on spectators. We want to honor that… I don’t have specific details yet, because things are continuing to change, and I want to be able to maximize the experience,” Robinson said.

Students will be able to sign up for their pod of choice for the in-person graduation using a form emailed on April 22 until it closes on May 7. In-person graduations will also be live-streamed for family and friends who could not attend due to the restrictions on the number of people in attendance.

“I’m disappointed that I won’t be able to have a regular ceremony with everyone, but I’m glad we will have some sort of in-person experience,” senior Lucy Comins said.

While the in-person ceremony will be shortened due to CDC restrictions and overall safety, the virtual graduation includes all the components a typical ETHS graduation would.

“The virtual commencement is going to have all the pomp and circumstance, all of the student speakers and guest speakers… all the academic recognition—like we did last year,” Robinson said.

Even though many students are still disappointed that, due to the pandemic and capacity issues, prom will not happen, ETHS has worked to make an informal celebration. The senior send-off block party, which will include a senior slideshow, DJ and food trucks.

“For the senior send-off, the main idea, as a whole, isn’t to be all dressy and flashy, it’s just to… [feel] that connection and be with your friends,” senior and Student Council member Alana Stone said.

This senior send-off is still in the process of being planned. Currently, the senior class is being encouraged to help with the planning alongside senior Student Council members.

“I basically am another set of voices for especially the senior class. I usually advocate for the seniors, so if they have any ideas, I’m usually bringing that to staff members that are planning things,” Stone said.

The Class of 2021 will be getting a graduation different from what they always imagined, but with the school in a constant push to honor the seniors, ETHS hopes this graduation will be just as memorable.

“Our goal is to create a space where we can celebrate seniors for their accomplishments in the best way that we can do it now, in this space, under the new guidelines,” Robinson said.

“We miss them. We celebrate them and recognize them and their achievements.”