A COVID Graduation: Administration plans for a “Drive-Thru” Ceremony

A COVID Graduation: Administration plans for a “Drive-Thru” Ceremony

Georgia Hensley, Author

In preparation for the end of the 2020-2021 school year, plans for a “drive-thru” graduation ceremony have been announced for seniors at Spring Mills High School. The ceremony will be held on June 2nd at 5:30 pm in a fashion that Spring Mills administrators—after much consideration— have deemed most suitable for the current state of the pandemic.

“Due to the COVID safety protocols that would be in place for an outside traditional ceremony, we have agreed to a drive-thru format that will focus on the individual graduate in a more personalized experience,” said Spring Mills Principal Jason Kamlowsky in an email to students and their families. “This will allow all students the opportunity to participate and enjoy this joyous occasion with their families without experiencing limitations due to health and safety protocols.”

Before the decision was made, a survey was sent to seniors asking them to clarify their preference between the drive-thru ceremony or a traditional graduation ceremony that follows the CDC’s (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) COVID-19 safety guidelines in the football stadium. These results were analyzed closely and played a major role in determining the final plan for this year’s graduation.

Having already ruled out an entirely virtual ceremony, administrators were quick to identify their foremost priority: getting as many students across the stage as possible. The survey results along with direct communication between SMHS administration and members of the community revealed that many students and families are still apprehensive about attending large social events. Not only would a traditional ceremony pose more of a risk to those with health concerns, but it may also force high-risk students and families to miss the ceremony altogether.

“When I looked at the survey results, took the feedback from the people who had reached out, and talked to the administration, we made the decision to go with what we felt would get the most kids here on graduation night to walk across that stage,” explained Kamlowsky.

With most of the senior class at Spring Mills High School participating in online or ‘click’ learning, the atmosphere around schooling has felt far from normal, and lots of students were hoping that a traditional ceremony would provide closure to a very uncertain time. 

“It’s not really what I wanted or expected, but I’ll take whatever we can get at this point,” says senior Andrew Schwier. “As long as we get a graduation, I’ll be happy.”

The decision was not easy, but with administrators prioritizing student inclusion and safety, seniors at Spring Mills High School are guaranteed a proper celebration for their hard work and perseverance.

“If we start every conversation with what’s best for the kids, and we end every conversation with what’s best for the kids, then we can never go wrong,” concluded Kamlowsky.

*There will be a live broadcast of the graduation ceremony for anybody not in attendance. The link can be found on the SMHS website and social medias.