Graduation, prom moved to summer over virus concerns


Seminole County Public Schools announced last week plans to modify graduation and prom ceremonies and honor the senior class of 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

According to the press release, there are two plans of action, one for June if social distancing guidelines are lifted and one for July if social distancing guidelines are not lifted by the June deadline.

In the first plan, a free senior dance will be held at each high school campus on June 12. The dance will last from 8:20 p.m. through 11 p.m. in the RWL gym at Oviedo High School. The dance will be open to both juniors and seniors, according to OHS principal Dr. Trent Daniel.

Students who wish to attend the dance at OHS will need to fill out a Google Form to receive tickets. They will need to register guests as well. The dance is free for all juniors and seniors who wish to attend. Students that have already paid for prom tickets will be refunded by contacting the school.

On June 13, all high schools will host graduation ceremonies on the football fields at 8:20 p.m., which in military time is 20:20, a nod to the graduating class. If the ceremony is rained out, it will be moved to the next morning, June 13 at 8:20 a.m.

All graduation ceremonies will be live-streamed for spectators who cannot make the event.

If social guidelines are not lifted by June, the dates will be changed to July. The senior dance will take place on July 16 and will be held in the Commons and Amphitheater, but still at the same time. Graduation ceremonies on July 17, or July 18 if it rains. All times and locations will be kept the same for graduation ceremonies.

Cap and gown orders will be picked up in the car ramp in May. Student may also receive a refund on graduation fees. Future details will be announced.

According to the press release, Superintendent Dr. Walt Griffin has been working in virtual WebEx conference call meetings with each of the SCPS high school class presidents to to gather ideas for graduation and prom replacements.

OHS senior class president Paul Tumlin received 368 responses in a survey he sent to the senior class to represent them in the web conference meetings, said Dr. Daniel in an email update sent to parents.

“He was articulate and the best prepared for the meeting. Challenging times are also opportunities for leaders, and Paul has proven that he is a capable leader in today’s changing world,” Dr. Daniel said.

Many student are excited about having a graduation ceremony at all, as many didn’t think an event would happen. Senior Marley Romane, said she was relieved by the new announcement.

When everything first started kicking off, I kind of just assumed that all the other crowded events were going away,” Romane said.

With the loss of many senior traditions, students are still feeling the sting of the pandemic. In her emailed update, Dr. Daniel said she related to their grief.

“My heart is heavy experiencing our collective loss. I grieve for you, your parents, your family, our faculty and staff, our community, and the world,” she said, but also asked seniors to look ahead to their futures.

“When we come out the other side, we will all be changed. I believe that change will define your generation,” she said. “I know you will do good things in your lifetime and have empathy towards others.”