Graduates offered 2 options for graduation ceremony

  • File Photo.
    File Photo.

TIGER— Rabun County Schools will hold graduation on Saturday, August 1 and students have an opportunity to choose between two graduation plans: a “traditional stadium graduation” or a “personal drive through graduation.”

School officials were met with contention from some parents of seniors alleging that the graduation ceremony originally scheduled did not honor the seniors as it should.

At the Board of Education meeting last Thursday, parent Bobby Welch addressed board members and debated that the students deserved a traditional graduation that honored the seniors.

Welch and one other parent of a senior were the only two attendees who spoke at the meeting,

Following the meeting, school officials sent out a parent graduation survey to gauge parents’ opinions on plans for a graduation ceremony.

Justin Spillers, principal of Rabun County High School, sent out a statement Tuesday unveiling the two approaches to graduation ceremonies and he noted that the events planned are based on results received from the survey.

“If the past six months has taught us anything, it has taught us the importance of recognizing and celebrating the many blessings we have in our lives. Rabun County High School, along with Dr. Chiders and our Board of Education, is committed to recognizing your hard work and achievements throughout your time in Rabun County Schools, and we are excited to come together and celebrate with you one more time,” Spillers said in his statement.

“From the very start, Rabun County Schools has been proactive in our approach to planning a graduation ceremony. We have continually assessed, based on current conditions and guidance from a variety of health experts, whether to postpone, cancel, or significantly reduce the number of attendees at our August graduation ceremony.”

Spillers said that school officials have worked closely with the Rabun County Health Department to devise a plan to allow the accomplishments of these seniors to be celebrated in an environment that’s safe for all attendees.

The Class of 2020 was also surveyed regarding their feelings about available options for an in-person graduation event.

Graduates and their families may only choose one of the graduation celebration events.

Face to face graduation plan

Graduates who opt for the traditional stadium graduation plan will each be given six numbered tickets for parents and guests they want to invite.

These tickets will be handed out at graduation practice, which begins at 8 a.m. that morning.

In the instance that inclement weather forces the ceremony into the gym, only two guests with inclement weather tickets will be permitted inside the gym.

Graduates are given these tickets with their six numbered tickets.

The layout will be socially distanced sections on the home side that are clearly identified and labeled.

Each section will have seating areas identified along with areas where no seating is allowed. These sections will be spread out so social distancing guidelines can be followed.

Rabun County Sheriff’s deputies will be present to ensure social distancing is maintained and masks are required for all guests and graduates.

Families will be allowed to funnel into the stadium beginning at 7 p.m.

Students will be seated on the field at a distance and the ceremony might include speeches, diploma distribution, conferring of diplomas and the turning of the tassel.

The football field will be closed to guests before, during and after the ceremony and balloons, horns, stadium seats, etc. will not be permitted.

The ceremony will be live streamed to allow those who are not in attendance to view the ceremony.

Personalized drive through graduation

This personalized graduation will take place in the Fine Arts Building (FAB) and social distancing will be enforced. Masks will be required while inside the building as well.

Graduates will arrive at the FAB already in their cap and gowns and will be given a specific window of time to attend the ceremony.

Last name A-L: 3- 4 p.m.

Last name M-Z: 4-5 p.m.

Students and guests are limited to three vehicles and will enter into a line in front of the FAB and will remain in their vehicle until instructed to get out.

Parents take their place at the front of the FAB when their graduate is called and each student will have their name called, walk across the stage, receive their diploma from Mr. Spillers and Dr. Childers and will take pictures.

Seniors are not required to wear masks while taking pictures, it was noted in the plan.

After receiving their diploma and exiting the FAB, each student will be given a “ring the bell ticket” and will have the opportunity to enter Frank Snyder Field to ring the bell and take pictures. Only one family at a time will be allowed on the field.

“In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, we recognize the importance of understanding and adhering to the highest safety standards when planning an event,” Spillers said in his statement.