By David Howell
WATER VALLEY – School officials have finalized plans for next Friday’s graduation that will allow the 65 seniors in the Water Valley High School Class of 2020 to have a mostly traditional graduation at Bobby Clark Field while still providing measures for social distancing for attendees. The ceremony will also be live-streamed.
Water Valley High School Principal Drew Pitcock told the Herald that several plans were considered after schools were closed for the year, options that included a private ceremony, a traditional graduation with no limit on attendance, or a traditional graduation with limited attendance with each graduate allotted four tickets for family members or friends.
“Last week I was instructed to go ahead with the four-ticket plan,” Pitcock explained about the June 26 commencement ceremony at the football at 7 p.m. He also noted that limiting the number of family members who attend and implementing other social distancing guidelines is the only way to have a traditional ceremony while adhering to guidelines from the Mississippi Department of Education.
Pitcock received final approval for the guidelines (listed below) during Monday night’s school board meeting. Both school board member Pierce Epes and Superintendent Jerry Williams asked for understanding from community members on the restrictions, noting that very few school districts in the state have been able to have a traditional graduation.
“This is something we really need to do for the kids and the community,” Epes said.
“No matter what we do, there is going to be folks who still won’t be happy about it. But we are doing to best we can to give these kids the best graduation that we can,” Board Chairman Taylor Trusty added. “We have all said from the beginning that this is very important for these kids to have an opportunity to celebrate this accomplishment.”
“Plus we are live-streaming it. If you don’t have internet, come sit in the parking lot (at the high school), tap into our WiFi and watch it,” Williams added.
Water Valley Police Chief Jason Mangrum also attended the school board meeting and reported multiple officers will be assigned to assist with the event.
In case of inclement weather, the graduation will be pushed to 10 a.m. Saturday morning, June 26.
Further details about the ceremony, which will be live streamed on Facebook include:
• The gates will open at 6 p.m.
– The home side bleachers will be divided into four sections to facilitate appropriate social distancing
– Each student will be given four tickets
– The section number will be written on each ticket
– Students will enter through the field house entrance
– Section 1 and 2 will enter at the main ticket booth
– Section 3 and 4 will enter through the North ticket booth
– Students and guests will exit the stadium from the same ticket booth immediately after the ceremony.
– No pictures will be taken after the ceremony
– Practice appropriate social distancing
– Masks are encouraged but not required
– There will be no restroom access
– All seniors should check their school email account for more information regarding graduation.