December 6, 2021 Local Stories in and Around St. Joseph, Illinois

SJO makes graduation plans for June

St. Joseph-Ogden High School is making plans for graduation to honor the Class of 2020.


In a letter sent to parents Friday morning, the district outlined plans for a modified ceremony in June.

The initial graduation ceremony was set for May 17 inside SJO’s gymnasium before the coronavirus pandemic hit.


This week, the district received approval from the Illinois Department of Public Health and the Champaign County Health Department for a plan that will include graduates being able to walk across the stage in a cap and gown, with four family members present and receive a diploma.


The event will take place with one graduate at a time and will be held inside the high school. The presentation of diplomas will be videotaped and put together to form a more traditional ceremony.


The video will then be released online and DVD copies will be provided to each graduate.


“In the end, by following very strict guidelines to ensure the health and safety of all, we will be able to provide you with the closest thing to a full graduation as we can,” the letter states.


The plan includes limiting access to parts of the building not used for the graduation ceremony, cleaning protocols that will be followed after each student and family leave the gym, and following the Centers for Disease Control’s social distancing guidelines.


Next week, the district will send seniors an email asking them to sign up for a time on June 3, 4 or 5.


The district will reach out to graduates that will leave for military service before those dates to ensure they can take part in graduation before they leave.


After students have selected a time, the district will send more instructions via email that will include guidelines for the day of graduation. The district is asking parents to remind their students to check their school email regularly for further info regarding graduation.


The district will be scheduling a drive-through pick-up of caps and gowns on May 7 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Graduates or family members should pull up to the commons’ doors between those hours and school personnel will bring the cap and gown out to the car. The district is asking students and family members to stay in their cars during pickup.


At the school board meeting this week, Brooks and Page said representatives from the senior class had told the district they had no interest in a virtual ceremony. The district is pleased to be able to have this alternative, Brooks said.


“While we know this is less than our graduates deserve, we are excited to be able to offer a graduation that is as personal as possible for our graduates and families,” the letter states.

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