With the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic wreaking havoc on time-honored high school traditions such as spring sports and proms and shifting classes to an online format, local schools are adjusting by hosting virtual ceremonies, delayed in-person events or even both.
About half of the local high schools are hosting virtual ceremonies later this month or in June, with the rest postponing graduation until a date when it would be safe to hold an in-person ceremony.
Many schools let their seniors decide whether they wanted to have a virtual graduation around the same date a normal ceremony would take place or to wait until they could hold an in-person commencement, with the in-person events taking place this summer or even the fall if needed.
“Our class of 2020 students were surveyed and overwhelmingly preferred against having a virtual ceremony,” Woodward spokeswoman Amy Morris said.
The Atlanta Public Schools district, which includes North Atlanta High, opted for both virtual and in-person ceremonies after polling its seniors. The virtual graduations will take place May 18 through 22, with North Atlanta’s set for May 22. That school’s in-person commencement will take place at a date to be determined.
In Pennsylvania, at least one school is holding its graduation at a drive-in movie theater. While that idea was discussed by Atlanta district schools and possibly other local ones, none opted for that format. However, some are being creative in other ways while planning their big days.
“We are holding a diploma ceremony on Friday, May 15, with a Zoom ceremony and drive-in diploma pick-up at The Howard School,” said Marci Mitchell, the school’s spokeswoman.
Galloway spokeswoman Meghan Stauts added, “We will be having a tentative graduation parade on the evening of Thursday, May 21, but details are still being finalized and this will only be open to Galloway’s families.”
Here’s a rundown of local high schools’ graduation ceremonies:
Atlanta Classical:♦ May 16 (an in-person ceremony is planned for a date TBA)
Atlanta Country Day:♦ NA
Atlanta Girls’:♦ TBA
Atlanta Jewish:♦ NA
Atlanta International:♦ Aug. 14
Brandon Hall:♦ August (date TBA)
Cumberland:♦ June 23
Ben Franklin:♦ Aug. 1 at Glenn Memorial United Methodist Church
Galloway:♦ May 21
Holy Innocents’:♦ July 25
Holy Spirit:♦ NA
Howard:♦ May 15
Lovett:♦ early August (date TBA)
Marist:♦ July 12
Mount Vernon:♦ July 31 on campus
North Atlanta:♦ May 22 (an in-person ceremony is planned for a date TBA)
North Springs:♦ May 26
Pace:♦ Aug. 1 at Peachtree Road United Methodist Church
St. Pius X:♦ May 16
Riverwood:♦ May 21
Westminster:♦ Aug. 1 on campus; if postponed due to COVID-19, makeup date is Nov. 28
Whitefield:♦ July 15 virtual ceremony; not open to the public
Woodward: July 25 on campus; if postponed due to COVID-19, makeup date is Nov. 28