GOLDSBORO, N.C. (WNCT) During Monday evening’s monthly Board of Education meeting, Wayne County Public Schools administrators announced the district’s plan to hold live commencement events for its graduating classes of 2020.
“School districts are struggling nationwide for how to honor their graduating seniors in this COVID-19 environment,” states Ken Derksen, WCPS 2020 Graduation Coordinator. “We have reviewed North Carolina’s guidelines for what would be allowed for commencement events, developed potential options for schools to consider, asked high school principals to get feedback, and researched how other school districts are holding their events. Ultimately, Wayne County Public Schools has developed one of the more unique and complex plans in the state to give all of our graduating classes live ceremonies and to help them bring closure to their high school experience the same way they started, together.”
The district’s graduation plan has three elements: Procession, Drive-In, & Live Ceremony.
Each school’s graduates will be lined up at Wayne Community College (WCC). Upon arrival, each graduate will receive a special Honor Cord. The cord will have two colors bound together, teal and gray.
“These seniors have missed so many experiences as a result of COVID-19, including prom, senior trips, athletics, and the day to day opportunities to socialize with their classmates and teachers at school,” adds Derksen. “The gray in the Honor Cord is symbolic of the absence of these experiences. The more dominant color in the cord is teal, which is one of the primary district colors. The teal represents all that these seniors have overcome this year and for becoming a 2020 graduate of Wayne County Public Schools.”
At 8:20 PM, or 2020 Military Time, the graduates will depart from WCC in a vehicle procession led by the School Resource Officer from each high school, participating in fire departments from the communities in which the high schools are located, WCC Campus Police, and school and district representatives. Each graduate’s vehicle will be allowed to have up to three guests and will be driven by a parent so the graduate can safely focus on the walkways beside the procession route.
“Leading up to this very specific time, we are encouraging each school’s staff, family members, and members of the community to park and safely socially distance themselves along the procession route to celebrate our graduates with signs, balloons, and other messages of support,” adds Derksen.
Those coming out will be able to stand and socially distance themselves on the sidewalk in front of the Maxwell Center on Wayne Memorial Dr., along the greenway running the length of New Hope Rd., and on the sidewalk along Berkeley Blvd. between New Hope Rd. and Royall Ave. The walkways stretch approximately 3.5 miles, giving ample space for supporters to spread out.
The procession will end at Berkeley Mall, where all graduates will be parked facing the stage and two jumbo screens secured to the building. The events will be closed to the general public and will kick off once all graduates are parked.
Keeping as close to a traditional ceremony as possible, all senior speeches and graduation presentations will be delivered live from the stage. Following the speeches, seniors will be exited from their vehicles, with six students at a time socially distanced 8-feet apart from each other, to physically walk across the stage as their name is called to receive their diploma and have a photo taken. The ceremonies will be displayed on the jumbo screens, with audio of the speeches broadcast directly into vehicles through low-power FM radio.
“We believe our seniors have experienced enough online activities as a result of COVID-19. Holding our events in the physical manner in which we are planning will allow all seniors and their families to attend the same live ceremony together, and will give graduates the opportunity to watch each other collectively walk across the stage,” adds Derksen.
District administrators are appreciative of the community partners whose contributions have made these events possible for our graduating classes.
The dates for the WCPS graduation events are as follows:
|Date||School||# of Grads|
|June 8, 2020||Wayne Early/Middle College High School||57|
|June 9, 2020||Wayne School of Engineering||55|
|June 10, 2020||Goldsboro High||126|
|June 11, 2020||Rosewood High||125|
|June 15, 2020||Spring Creek High||155|
|June 16, 2020||Southern Wayne High||240|
|June 17, 2020||Eastern Wayne High||230|
|June 18, 2020||Charles B. Aycock High||273|