Chesapeake announces plans for high school graduation ceremonies

great bridge high school homecoming pic.jpg
Posted at 3:44 PM, Apr 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-21 16:50:28-04

NORFOLK, Va. – Chesapeake Public Schools has announced that it will hold graduation ceremonies for each of its seven high schools at the S.B. Ballard Stadium on the Old Dominion University campus.

It’s a way for seniors to have an in-person ceremony with the entire class present while following the required COVID-19 guidelines.

“We had to look at what our students’ desires were, what we could do that could be the safest but also closest to the traditional graduation ceremony that we could offer,” explained Dr. Sheli Porter who co-chairs the planning committee. “And this is where we’ve landed, and we’re very excited about the opportunity for our kids and our families. It’s a really big deal.”

Great Bridge High School senior, Sam Norvell, is on the student council and is relieved to hear that he will have a graduation ceremony with all of his classmates.

“A lot of our senior events have been canceled, so we’ve really tried our best to keep the senior motivation up. It’s getting a little difficult, but we try our best,” Norvell said.

Spectra Venue Management overseas events at Ballard Stadium. Michael Fryling, General Manager of S.B. Ballard Stadium and Chartway Arena said each student can have up to three guests. The guests will be assigned seats and each of those small groups will be at least 10 feet apart. All visitors will be required to wear a face mask. The outdoor venue is one that he’s glad is available for schools to rent.

The ceremony will also be live-streamed.

Related: Gov. Northam announces draft plan for schools to hold in-person graduation, commencement events this spring

“We’ve taken this package that we’ve created and presented it to all the local school districts,” Fryling stated. “I think some of the other districts are very interested in this, and hopefully in the coming days we can make some announcements about other school districts joining Chesapeake Public Schools.”

A stage will be set up in the end zone, and seniors will be seated on chairs on the field.

Dr. Porter explained that in order to stay contactless, students will not be greeted with a handshake on stage, but they will be individually recognized on stage with an opportunity to take a photo while keeping socially distant from others. The diplomas and programs will be placed on the students’ seats prior to the start of the ceremony.

The graduations will be held rain or shine; however, if there is severe weather with lightning, a rain date is available.

Chesapeake Public Schools released the following dates:

  • Western Branch - Wednesday, June 16 at 9 a.m.
  • Deep Creek -Wednesday, June 16 at 1:30 p.m.
  • Oscar Smith - Wednesday, June 16 at 6 p.m.
  • Hickory - Thursday, June 17 at 9 a.m.
  • Grassfield - Thursday, June 17 at 1:30 p.m.
  • Indian River - Thursday, June 17, at 6 p.m.
  • Great Bridge - Friday, June 18 at 9 a.m.

Virginia Beach City Public Schools sent an e-mail to families stating that they are currently considering all options. One of those options is using the Veteran’s Home Loan Amphitheater. There’s no word yet on when they plan to make a decision.

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