Outdoor degrees from Ann Arbor’s three largest high schools

ANN ARBOR, MI – Seniors at Ann Arbor’s three largest high schools will hold personal outdoor graduation ceremonies.

State restrictions on public gatherings prevent Ann Arbor public schools from holding traditional, grand indoor ceremonies, Superintendent Jeanice Swift said. However, Pioneer, Huron, and Skyline high schools will hold two ceremonies, each with half the class outside, to allow family members to attend and the district to comply with state regulations.

“The Class of 2021 combines a long tradition of AAPS graduates. When we hear from our students and parents this year, it is important to us that we all value the experience of celebrating the start of school with a personal ceremony that recognizes the achievements of our graduates, ”said Swift on Wednesday, May 5th, in a message to families.

This new schedule is a departure from the March tentative schedule for AAPS, when seniors from Pioneer, Huron, and Skyline graduated from outdoor ceremonies at Rynearson Stadium at Eastern Michigan University.

However, the times and dates for these ceremonies remain unchanged and are:

  • Tuesday June 1, 6:30 p.m .: Walkways at Huron High School
  • 5pm and 7.30pm Wednesday June 2: Huron at Huron High School
  • 5 p.m. and 7.30 p.m. Thursday June 3: Pioneer at Pioneer High School
  • Friday, June 4th, 6:30 p.m .: fellowship at Pioneer High School
  • Monday, June 7th, 5pm and 7.30pm: Skyline at Skyline High School

The district expects families of high school graduates in Huron, Pioneer and Skyline to receive approximately four tickets to ceremonies, Swift said.

Sitting in each of the stages of high schools allows for social distancing between families. The capacity of the seats in the AAPS Stadium, as well as state guidelines for spectator limits, dictate exactly how many tickets can be issued for each graduate, Swift said.

For Community and Pathways Graduates, schools will provide reasonable audience limits based on stadium capacity and state guidelines.

The ceremonies will feature many of the traditional features of the beginning, according to Swift, with socially distant processions and recessions, speeches from students, and addresses from school principals.

“Most importantly, each graduate is featured as they take the stage to earn their diploma,” said Swift.

The students sit on chairs in the field in front of a stage, while the spectators sit in the home and visitor stands. Each school shares the specific details for their ceremonies with graduates and families, including spectator tickets.

Each of the ceremonies will be a “rain or shine” event, Swift said, with an alternate schedule taking place the same day in bad weather. These plans would likely include a modified ceremony that included a short indoor procession with students having their names read when they receive their diplomas, with their parents present at the diploma award ceremony.

All ceremonies will be broadcast live and replayed on CTN at later times.

On Wednesday, Michigan Senate Republicans pressed for a face-to-face start across the state.

Legislature approved Senate Draft 335, sponsored by Senator Jim Runestad, R-White Lake, with a vote of 21-15. The bill would prohibit the state health director or local health officials from ordering a ban or limitation on back-to-school ceremonies for this year’s class of students.

The legislation would apply to public and non-public schools alike, and the vote will take place a day after Governor Gretchen Whitmer and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services relax mask and congregation restrictions.

The House also passed House Bill 4728, sponsored by Rep. Ann Bollin, R-Brighton, on Wednesday with a vote of 60-48. It would also ban emergency orders to curtail or end school start ceremonies.


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