Graduation and Prom Dates Announced
By: Atlanta Northcutt --- Reporter for the Southern Standard
Prom and graduation for seniors will go on as dates were approved by the Warren County School Board Monday night.
During the School Board meeting, it was announced the senior prom will take place on Friday, June 5, to allow students to experience a beloved rite of passage during the unprecedented time of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I know there will be a lot of jubilant seniors knowing they have a semblance of normal,” said Director of Warren County Schools, Bobby Cox after the School Board approved the dates.
Cox explained how this year’s prom will be unique in the way that students are allotted certain times to participate in their prom experience.
“Students will have to attend and leave the prom at certain times to follow the social distancing guidelines laid out by the state, but they will still be able to have the experience,” says Cox. “Although this year’s prom will be different, we wanted to try our best to provide the prom experience.”
Approximately 100 students or less will be allowed to be a part of the prom at one time to ensure being in accordance with the six foot social distancing rule.
“We’ve got everything worked out, have a new director of schools on board and everything is ready to go,” says Cox.
Students must register for the certain timeline of their choosing to participate in the senior prom.
“We will look at the space where the prom will be held, and see what grouping can be had to follow all guidelines,” says Cox. “We are recommending masks and face coverage, including WCHS Principal Clark George encouraging masks to match prom attire if desired.”
Social distancing will be of the utmost importance with only 10 students gathering together at one time.
Cox states there won’t be more than 10 or less students at a time, and seats at the tables will be disinfected before the next group comes in.
“Depending on time slots, five or six groups will rotate in and out of the prom,” says Cox. “The times of the beginning and end of this year’s prom will be extended.”
Cox states Warren County High School prom will take place through a first come, first serve basis with an online database allowing students to sign up for the time of their choosing to participate.
WCHS principal, George Clark, will be handling those time slots with set times once guidelines are approved for the prom to start and begin.
“I think students are obviously looking for some sort of normalcy during a very abnormal time,” says Cox. “They wanted to participate in the last opportunity to be with their friends, even if not as normal as it would typically be.”
Senior graduation will occur June 12 beginning at 7 p.m.
“This year’s seniors have missed so much of their last year of school,” says Cox. “The board and myself wanted to give these students an experience they can remember during their last year of high school,” says Cox.
However, both the prom and graduation is at parents’ and guardians’ discretion.
“Prom and graduation would all be by guardians’ permission,” said Cox, who indicated other arrangements would be made if a discomfort is felt with the ceremonies as presented.
“If any guardians feel it’s unsafe for their child to participate, we will try our best to accommodate our students the best we can,” says Cox.
Cox states the guardians of students are very important in the prom and graduation process, and their discretion is important.
“Unlike previous years, there will be no shaking of hands, but students will still be able to walk across the stage and have their pictures taken,” says Cox. “We are having to limit the number of family members in attendance with four participants per student.”
Graduation will be held on the football field, as per usual, but with a separation of chairs on the field being six feet apart, and diplomas will be set on a table instead of being given through hand-to-hand contact.
“It’s definitely a memorable occasion. When able to give diplomas to children, it’s very special, especially as this class has had to endure a lot of change,” says Cox. “We hope to make this experience as normal and memorable as possible.”
For precaution, students and family members will be screened and socially distanced until the end of the ceremony.
“We’ve consulted the health department for guidance,” says Cox. “Attendees will have a band to show they are with a graduate, and must sit three rows apart across the stadium’s bleachers.”
During the School Board meeting, it was announced thermometers had been ordered, and a guidance of a fever of 100.4 degrees was allotted for attendance.
“This may be the only time students are recognized for their achievements,” says Cox. “Some students may be the first graduates in their family and should be recognized for such an important moment in their lives.”
WCHS’s graduation will be available through live stream on Warren County Schools’ Youtube channel, as well as being broadcasted on the local radio station.
“I feel like both the board and myself wanted students to be able to be part of an experience to remember for a lifetime,” says Cox. “The pandemic will never be forgotten, but the fact these students will get to walk across the stage, even without receiving a handshake, they will still receive the recognition they deserve.”
“We appreciate the community and the public being patient with us to determine how to do this,” adds Cox. “All plans are currently approved, but if the dates change due to the illness, we’ll have to alter those plans as guidance is provided. Current plans we have now and hope to continue with the current plans, but if anything is to change, we hope to be able to accommodate and provide the prom and graduation experience regardless of when able to.”