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Cumberland County Schools has changed course on graduation plans for the Class of 2020, moving the ceremonies to mid-June at the students’ high school locations.

“After listening to feedback from students, parents and school administrators, I’ve heard a consistent message – students are ready to graduate and move forward with their post-secondary plans,” said CCS Superintendent Dr. Marvin Connelly, Jr.

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The district had announced that ceremonies would likely be held in late July, likely at the Crown Complex, but several concerns reportedly led to a change. Of note, the concern about graduates entering military service in June.

“We have learned that social-distancing limitations would likely remain in place for events such as graduation ceremonies even in July,” Connelly said. “We have also heard from students who are leaving for college or the military in June and would not be able to attend a graduation in July.”

From Cumberland County Schools:

Cumberland County Schools (CCS) has altered the previously announced graduation schedule after receiving feedback from graduating seniors, parents and high school administrators. Graduating seniors will now be able to ‘walk across the stage’ and receive their diplomas between June 12 and June 19 at their high schools. Smaller high schools that do not have auditoriums, e.g., Early Colleges, A.B. Wilkins, and Cumberland Polytechnic, will have the option to distribute diplomas at the district’s Educational Resource Center if needed.

“After listening to feedback from students, parents and school administrators, I’ve heard a consistent message – students are ready to graduate and move forward with their post-secondary plans,” said CCS Superintendent Dr. Marvin Connelly, Jr. “We have learned that social-distancing limitations would likely remain in place for events such as graduation ceremonies even in July. We have also heard from students who are leaving for college or the military in June and would not be able to attend a graduation in July.”

This revised graduation plan, which was vetted by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction and the Cumberland County Health Director, allows graduating seniors to have an opportunity to ‘walk across the stage’ while their family members look on. Graduation celebration events will be conducted in shifts with small groups of students and their guests arriving at scheduled times. Graduates may have a maximum of four guests accompany them, including children and infants. Face masks or face coverings must be worn by all attendees, with the exception of children under two years of age.

High school principals will share a detailed overview of their graduation plans with families this week. The update will include an assigned date and block of time for each student to report to his or her school, health and safety protocols, and other logistics.

The district will capture students’ photos as they walk across the stage and produce a graduation video for each high school, which will include a message from each principal and senior class president, along with a photo of each graduating senior. The videos will be made available to graduates and the general public once they are finalized.

“Given all of the unknowns with the July time frame, including possible limitations with hosting graduations at a single venue, we feel this is the best path forward,” said Dr. Connelly. “While COVID-19 restrictions will prevent us from hosting traditional, large-scale graduation ceremonies, this plan will allow parents and guardians to see their high school graduates ‘walk across the stage.’”

 

Brandon Plotnick is a former sports journalist, now living in the digital space with interests all over the musical and pop culture map.