CRESTVIEW -- Graduating seniors nationwide have been stripped of their anticipated ceremonies due to the COVID-19 pandemic, forcing local schools to alter their usual festivities.
Crestview High School saluted each of their 85 seniors with 10-minute, individualized miniature graduation ceremonies over a few days this week.
Each graduating senior was permitted to invite seven guests to adhere to social distancing guidelines that limit the amount of people in a public place to 10 individuals.
Students also were permitted to choose who handed them their diplomas. Choices ranged from coaches, inspirational teachers, middle school faculty, elementary school faculty and administrators.
Luke Rogers, co-senior class advisor and teacher, says the faculty were dedicated to finding the best solution for the graduation class amid the unique circumstances.
“We had to go back to the drawing board and figure out what can we do for our students, how can we do the best for the kids in our community when every answer is no, you can’t do that," Rogers said. "We considered all the alternatives, but I think what’s most important is we never said, will we do something?
"It was always, how will we do it?”
Every student was recorded as they walked across the stage to "Pomp and Circumstance. They had their pictures taken.
In many ways, 2020 has become a monumental year of "firsts" for school systems.
“We wish it wasn’t a mini-graduation. We’d be much happier if it was a regular graduation. We tried to recognize every graduate and make them look like individuals," said superintendent Randy Dunlap. "We hope that this never happens again.
"Fortunately, we had a great group of people who worked together to plan this and set this up. We’re trying to make (the graduates) the focus."
Crestview principal Andrew Ditlevson wanted the graduating seniors to be given the recognition they deserved while keeping the students, families and faculty healthy.
"I think the biggest challenge was determining how do we honor the traditions that come before us but do it in a way that both safe and meaningful," Ditlevson said. “We wanted to provide an experience that allows the most families to participate.”
Graduating seniors will also receive a goody bag courtesy of the Crestview Parents Club and a DVD that includes a professionally edited recording of the graduation ceremony featuring every student walking across the stage and a simultaneous turn of the tassel.
Gabe Plank of Dynamic Audio Productions Inc. has volunteered his time to record the ceremonies and will edit the graduations together. The parents club also distributed yard signs to the seniors as a way to acknowledge their accomplishments.
Kameron Goon, graduating senior, participated in his mini graduation late Thursday afternoon.
“It’s about as good as we can do considering the circumstances," Goon said. "I’m not disappointed about it.”
Goon will pursue radiological science at North Central State College in Mansfield.