It’ll be a night at the drive-in for members of the Class of 2020.
Monday, Madison County High School Principal Betty Jo Wynham detailed a plan to host a drive-in style graduation ceremony for this year’s senior class. The students were supposed to graduate in a traditional ceremony next Friday, but due to COVID-19 and the current social distancing restrictions, that event was cancelled. Now, students will graduate May 29.
“[Graduation] is important,” Wynham said. “We know it and we’ve been working on it and developing a meaningful and personal experience that we all got as students.”
Each student will be given a pass during senior clearance, which counselors are working on scheduling, for their car. They will then enter the high school’s back parking lot and park in assigned spaces and rows on a first-come, first-served basis. Following speeches by the salutatorian and valedictorian, each student will be called up, likely four at a time, to walk across the stage and receive their diploma.
Wynham said vehicles must be standard passenger size and able to fit in a standard parking space. There will be one student per car and parents are allowed to be in the car with them. However, they must remain in the car. No other guests or vehicles will be allowed at the ceremony. Once students graduate they will drive out in front of the school and down past the middle school along Mountaineer Way where parents and others can be waiting in cars to congratulate them.
Wynham has worked with Victor O’Neill studios to provide the photos taken during the ceremony to students for free. The ceremony will also be livestreamed via Facebook Watch and school officials are researching broadcast FM options so it can be listened to from inside the cars.
“We’re excited,” she said. “I think this can be a memorable experience for the kids.”
Wynham said the ceremony will continue if it rains. In the event of severe weather, it will be postponed to May 30.
“I really hope this will be special for all,” she said.
School board member Arthur Greene, Jr. applauded the idea.
“I have gratitude,” he said. “I think this is so big. These students deserve to experience graduation even if it’s modified.”
Senior Kaleigh Tyler said she and her sister love the idea.
“It’s important to have a graduation and with the circumstances, I think this is the perfect one,” she said.
High school officials will be contacting seniors with more information including plans for senior clearance.