Drive-by graduation ceremonies, parades in works for Roaring Fork district high schools
Graduation day for Roaring Fork District high schools will be a little bit unique this spring — to say the least — but special nonetheless, explained a group of school officials who have been putting the plans together.
School board members gave a virtual thumbs-up during a video conference meeting Wednesday morning to recommendations put forth by the district’s special Pomp and Circumstance Committee.
The committee, made up of staff members from each of the four district high schools, got to work in early April when it became apparent that traditional graduation ceremonies could not take place due to school closures brought on by public health restrictions related to the coronavirus pandemic.
Instead of same-old, same-old, the class of 2020 is to be recognized with a drive-by ceremony honoring graduates in Glenwood Springs, Carbondale and Basalt, each broadcast on a local radio station and followed by an escorted parade.
The Colorado Department of Education issued guidelines earlier this week for alternative graduation ceremonies, including no physical handing out of diplomas, outdoor ceremonies only, use of face coverings by all participants, and strict social-distancing protocols.
Each of the district high schools has ordered facemasks with the school logo for students and staff to wear while attending.
Plans for each of the graduation ceremonies are still pending final approval by public health officials in the respective counties, Superintendent Rob Stein said during the Wednesday meeting, but otherwise are a go.
For Glenwood Springs High School graduates, the ceremony is to take place at the Glenwood Airport at 10 a.m. May 30, and will be broadcast live on KMTS and streamed at kmts.com. A procession down Midland Avenue is to follow.
Similar events will take place in school parking lots and on the streets of Carbondale and Basalt that same morning.
• Roaring Fork High School is to begin with a police/fire escort through town at 10 a.m., followed by a ceremony at 10:30 a.m. in the Carbondale Middle School parking lot. It is to be announced live on KDNK and at kdnk.org.
• Basalt High School’s ceremony is to take place at 9 a.m. at a school site to be determined. The school is working with KSNO for its broadcast.
• And, the alternative Bridges High School in Carbondale is slated to have its ceremony at 6 p.m. May 29 in the school’s parking areas. It, too, is to be broadcast and streamed on KDNK.
Per the plan, each student is to be in a separate car driven by a family member or designee. Graduates will be recognized individually as they drive through the line at each location. After their name is called, the graduate is to step out of the car long enough to turn their tassel.
In keeping with the Bridges tradition, teachers will also read a special statement over the airwaves about each student.
“This is a special time for the students and their families, and we wanted each of these to be meaningful,” Stein said.
Zoe Stern, the assistant principal at Roaring Fork High, chaired the district’s graduation committee. She said it was challenging to gather all of the ideas from each of the schools. The resulting plan ended up including several common elements, while allowing each school to maintain some of their unique traditions, she said.
She said the committee and schools are also reaching out to families to arrange for a vehicle if they don’t have one of their own that’s available for graduation day.
The multi-district Yampah Mountain High School in Glenwood Springs, which is not part of the school district, is planning a similar graduation event, slated for 10 a.m. May 29 outside the Glenwood Community Center. It also will be followed by a parade of graduates on Midland.
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Courtney Hassell says she could have been completely disillusioned with schools and education, and in many ways she was, after an experience three years ago at Glenwood Springs High School.