Class Of 2021 Hopes For Better Graduation, Prom News
2020 graduates received a less than ideal farewell. What will the class of 2021 see when vaccines become increasingly available across Northern Michigan?
Opening event plans are being made, but officials recognize the need to be extremely flexible. “We have several contingent liabilities,” says Dr. John VanWagoner, Superintendent at the Traverse City Area Public Schools. Options considered include both group and individual ceremonies. If COVID-19 conditions continue to worsen, TCAPS would consider virtual ceremonies, although he calls this a last resort.
Traverse City West and Central High Schools are currently scheduled to begin June 6 during the day. Traverse City High School is scheduled for June 4th evening. VanWagoner points to the Kresge Auditorium in the Interlochen Center for the Arts as the most likely place where degrees were traditionally obtained. “Normally it would be at Interlochen, but we’re not sure if it’s allowed,” he says. Another option is Thirlby Field.
He says a final decision will likely be made sometime in May. “It’s too early to call,” says VanWagoner, who will lead a decision-making team with the associate superintendents and directors. “You have to be flexible. As much as people want to get back to normal, there we are. Our final choice is to do it virtual. We absolutely hope to avoid that. “
“It’s a triage mentality,” he continues. “There is no mentor, no one has been through this situation. You are simply making the best decision that you can. We rely heavily on the Grand Traverse Health Department for recommendations and health protocols. “
Regarding other event schedules, such as the prom, a district spokesperson said the goal was to provide memories, celebrations, and opportunities for students and families to honor and recognize their accomplishments. It works according to the current COVID-19 guidelines and develops alternatives for several scenarios. The district will make its plans available to families and the public as soon as they are finalized.
In the Catholic schools of Grand Traverse, as last year, graduation and entry-level exercises will take place in the Pit Spitters Turtle Creek Stadium on May 28th. Social distancing and other health protocols will be in place.
Dr. Erick Chittle, principal at St. Francis High School, said last year that change can be beneficial. “If it hadn’t been for the pandemic, we might never have thought about the possibility of a combined high school diploma and a degree. Last year we teamed up with Pit Spitters Turtle Creek Stadium due to COVID-19 restrictions and the evening was absolutely beautiful. “
The plans for the prom and annual fundraiser for Gladhander are still incomplete. External venues will be considered.
Kingsley Area Schools are currently planning to graduate on June 11th at 7pm. Superintendent Keith Smith says the district’s smaller classes – usually between 90 and 120 students – make it easier to develop alternative plans than in a district the size of TCAPS. “We traditionally have it in the gym. We had it on the soccer field last year, ”he says.
Plans for a prom are to be held in an outdoor venue open only to Kingsley juniors and seniors. Smith says he knows this will disappoint students who are unable to visit their boyfriend or girlfriend from any other location, but he believes this is the safest and most responsible way to hold the event.
“Things have gone remarkably better than expected,” continued Smith, although he is well aware of the challenges the pandemic continues to pose. “What people don’t talk about is children’s mental health.”
A personal passage ceremony will be held in the Milliken Auditorium at Northwestern Michigan College (NMC) on May 1. It is conducted in accordance with state and local COVID-19 guidelines and NMC safety protocols.
Chancellor Cindy Deemer says that students will have to report and that the ceremony will go through in 15-minute sections. You can have up to two guests. Everyone will be masked, and although NMC President Dr. Nick Nissley and others will be present on stage, the entire ceremony will be non-contact.
Students who choose to attend will be notified with their allotted time and other instructions. The ceremony will be streamed on the college’s YouTube channel for those unable to attend in person. After the tour, graduates can continue their celebration outside the museum, where additional guests can attend as per social distancing guidelines.
Sally Smarsty, Student Success Coordinator, says that other major events such as meetings, tutoring, and other such activities were largely conducted through Zoom meetings. She assumes that this also applies to the orientation of the nearly 1,000 students who want to attend college in the fall.
She says college is looking for new ways to do old activities. As an example, she says there will be a movie night outside of North Hall with a large inflatable movie screen so students can be safely separated from each other. “It will not go back to everything as it used to be. We have a lot of non-traditional and commuter students. We’d like to offer things online or in a hybrid way so that maybe some students can join who haven’t done it before. “