GALLIPOLIS — Gallipolis City Schools Superintendent Craig Wright announced Tuesday via a Facebook video that Gallia Academy High School would be holding its graduation virtually on May 22 at 7 p.m.
“We’re going to do this with a virtual graduation and a possibility of a parade prior to the virtual graduation,” said Wright. “This is not how I wanted to handle this situation. However, it’s a situation we’re in. The governor last week passed very strict guidelines on what we could do. They also made it very clear that we could do nothing outside in a stadium, large group ceremonial observations, can’t do that. We wanted to compromise.”
GAHS seniors voted previously to postpone graduation, said the superintendent, but because of recent directives handed down by the state the school district went with another of the voting options in the form of a parade.
Wright said he is working with Gallipolis municipal government to make arrangements and the Gallia Health Department.
“We feel our seniors deserve closure…,” said Wright. “Stretching it out to the twenty-sixth of June, with the way things are going, doesn’t look good.”
Seniors are asked to decorate their cars for the parade around 5 p.m. to travel down Second Avenue in Gallipolis. Families are asked to line alone the street in their vehicles. The parade would last until around 6 p.m. Families will have about an hour to get home before the beginning of virtual commencement ceremony activities on YouTube around 7 p.m., said Wright.
“I will say that we went this direction for several different reasons,” said Wright. “One: our seniors deserve a proper ceremonial graduation where our speeches can be heard and they can be observed. And our parents, they should be able to see their son or daughter receive their diploma. The governor has made that clear that we can do that in our building as long as we’re ensuring social distancing. So, we’ll be scheduling those parents on May 20 from 8 to 6 p.m. and we’ll be working those straight through.”
Students will go out to the school at a particular time and can come through the school office area then go into the auditorium. Up to four guests are allowed to observe students receive a diploma. Students will receive their diploma, time will be allowed for pictures, and then exit into the GAHS rotunda area for another photo with a backdrop. The school will continue to cycle families through graduation on May 20.
Graduation speakers will be asked to come to the school May 12.
“Everything will be done in advance,” said Wright. “Each family will get an opportunity to see their son or daughter receive their diploma then we’ll do a posting of that at 7 p.m. for a watch party on graduation. So it’ll be a parade at 5:30 in town observing our seniors and then a watch party at 7 p.m., that virtual graduation that we’ll be sharing.”
Once the graduation is placed on YouTube, it will be available for the public to watch at any time. Copies will also be available to each senior.
Dean Wright is a staff writer for Ohio Valley Publishing and can be reached at 740-446-2342.