AURORA – School officials have announced that Aurora High’s 2020 graduates and their families can participate in a drive-thru/virtual commencement experience on two dates in June.
State officials have decided that traditional graduation ceremonies with large gatherings of people are off-limits to school districts because of social distancing requirements to stop the spread of coronavirus.
Gov. Mike DeWine has suggested schools either hold a virtual graduation via the internet, have a drive-thru type ceremony or have an in-person event of 10 people or less with 6 feet between each participant.
AHS Principal Paul Milcetich unveiled the commencement plan May 4, explaining the year-end activities will get under way with seniors picking up their caps, gowns and awards May 22 at AHS.
"We delayed our plans until now because we were waiting to receive guidance from Gov. Mike DeWine, the Ohio Department of Education, Ohio Department of Health and our local health board," Milcetich said. "We are doing everything that is allowable and safe; we’re taking a multi-faceted approach."
On June 6 – with June 7 being the rain date – each senior wearing a cap and gown can ride in a car with family members – one car per family – past the high school, get out of the car, receive his or her diploma and be congratulated by school officials.
Students with last names starting with A to L will drive through the main AHS parking lot on the north side of the school, while those with last names starting with L to Z will drive through the staff parking lot on the south side.
The cars driving through the north parking lot will enter and exit from West Pioneer Trail and the ones driving through the south lot will enter and exit from the Aurora-Hudson Road side of the campus. It is suggested that graduates wear face coverings.
Community Focus, formerly Cable 9, will videotape the motorcades driving through the parking lots and the students receiving their diplomas, and the public possibly will be able to view the caravan and handout of diplomas via live-streaming.
The virtual part of the commencement process will take place June 19, when one car per graduate family is invited to Midway Drive-In Theater on Route 59 between Kent and Ravenna to watch the video put together by Community Focus.
In addition to the caravan and handing out of diplomas, the video will include Milcetich’s message to the grads, class officers’ speeches, awards and the playing of AHS’s alma mater.
Twinsburg High will conduct a similar virtual commencement May 31 at the drive-in theater, as will Nordonia High on June 18.
"Our students, parent groups, staff and the police department are pulling together to do what we can under the circumstances," said Milcetich. "Although there have been some differences about what to do, we hope everyone will put those aside and rally together to make this the best possible graduation for our class of 2020."
Milcetich said if restrictions on large gatherings are eased later in the summer, school officials will consider the possibility of having a cookout for seniors and their families, most likely at Sunny Lake Park.
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