TWINSBURG, Ohio (WJW)– It is a momentous lifetime event that will look drastically different for the class of 2020. On Wednesday, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced guidelines that Ohio high schools must follow when holding modified graduation ceremonies during the coronavirus pandemic.
May 31 is still graduation day for seniors at Twinsburg High School.
But instead of walking across the stage inside the E.J. Thomas Performance Hall at the University of Akron, they will gather, with social distancing in mind, at the Midway Drive-In Theatre in Ravenna.
“We’re hopeful that our families will gather in their vehicles, each family will be given one ticket to meet at the drive-in theater and we’re gonna see the commencement video, the virtual commencement video, altogether, in the safety of our own vehicles,” said Kathi Powers, Twinsburg City School District superintendent.
DeWine said schools cannot hold traditional graduation gatherings because of social distancing requirements to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
In order of preference, the governor said schools should either hold a virtual graduation via the internet, have a drive-in type ceremony or have an in-person event of 10 people or less, at least 6 feet apart.
“I understand how hard this is for the class of 2020. It’s not how you envisioned it, it’s not how your parents envisioned it, it’s not how anyone envisioned it,” DeWine said.
Early next week, Twinsburg’s 324 graduating seniors will meet at the school in shifts to record their part of a virtual graduation video to be played at the drive-in ceremony.
“They will come with their caps and gowns and they each will be videotaped, walking forward toward a camera. We’ll have a video crew working to create a video of each of the students with their names called, with them turning their tassels,” Powers said.
The video will include school and family photos, performances and speeches from students and administrators..
“They will sing a song or they may play the piano or they may make a speech… These parts are included in the virtual commencement video,” said the superintendent.
The ceremony will also be live-streamed on local cable TV channels.
“In times like these, you have to be creative because what’s most important is making sure that our students have the opportunity to make memories to celebrate together.”
DeWine warned that postponing graduations until the summer could be risky, because strict social distancing guidelines could still be in place.
The governor also discouraged parents and students from having graduation parties, especially if they involve more than 10 people.