School districts green light drive-up, online graduation ceremonies

Several school districts have made alternative plans for high school graduation ceremonies

TULARE COUNTY – Traditional graduation ceremonies have existed for decades. But there is nothing traditional about the commencement that the class of 2020 will partake in. Following the plans put in place by the Visalia Unified School District, many school districts around Tulare County have begun announcing how they will be honoring their graduates.

In-person graduation ceremonies featuring a drive-thru component have been a common theme amongst different districts. This will help schools to abide by county and state regulations to minimize public gatherings and maintain social distancing. These forms of commencement will be used by Visalia, Exeter, Porterville and Farmersville unified school districts. The plan is to designate specific time slots for graduates and their families to drive through their respective campus, receive their diploma, and take pictures.

Most districts are also including a virtual ceremony with pre-recorded speeches, and a photo slideshow of every graduate.

The drive-thru schedule for Porterville Unified high school graduations is as follows:

  • Porterville High School – Wednesday, May 27, and Thursday, May 28 from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.
  • Granite Hills High School – Wednesday, May 27 from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Monache High School – Thursday, May 28 from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m.
  • Strathmore High School – Thursday, May 28 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
  • Harmony Magnet Academy – Friday, May 29 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
  • Butterfield Charter School – Friday, May 29 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Porterville Adult School – Monday, June 1 starting at 9 a.m.
  • Citrus High School will premiere their virtual ceremony on June 12 at 6 p.m. Students are invited to the site after the conclusion of the video for a drive-thru event to pick up their diploma.

The school district’s three middle schools will be holding drive-thru promotion ceremonies for students on the scheduled days:

  • Sequoia – Wednesday, May 27 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.
  • Bartlett – Thursday, May 28 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.
  • Pioneer – Friday, May 29 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

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Exeter and Farmersville have yet to announce their drive-up graduation dates. Farmersville High School allowed their students to have a voice in the decision-making process. The school conducted surveys to gauge student interest in regards to alternative graduation ceremonies.

“We wanted to make sure we had student voices be a part of the decision and majority of them opted for this drive up ceremony,” Farmersville Superintendent Paul Sevillano said. “We looked at other districts and wanted to take the best ideas from each one. I think it’ll be a great experience for our students.”

The Dinuba Unified School District decided to take a different approach for their high school. Since it is unlikely that they’ll be able to hold a traditional graduation ceremony on May 28, as previously scheduled, they will postpone the live ceremony to a later date and time. Their tentative postponement dates range from June 27 to Aug. 8.

The Woodlake Unified School District is still discussing their options and the plan is to announce their decision no later than their May 27 board meeting.

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