School searches for ways to adapt end-of-year activities

This story was originally published in the fifth edition of The Lion’s Tale (March 26, 2021).

When the coronavirus upended the previous school year last March, few anticipated that it would still be a major obstacle to gatherings and events 12 months later. Yet, Oviedo High School’s (OHS) graduating class of 2021 finds itself in a similar situation as its predecessor- forced to adapt long-standing traditions to avoid the spread of a deadly virus.

Fortunately, this year’s seniors will not be nearly as limited in their activities, as many events held virtually or cancelled last year will this time be conducted in person with the appropriate safety measures.

After surveying student opinion through a poll, the junior class announced the “OHS Senior Garden Party,” a spring formal to be held at Oviedo on the Park on April 10 in lieu of a traditional prom. The outdoor gathering, for which dress may be “formal or spring semi-formal,” will feature a sit-down dinner as well as photo booths and lawn games. It will not be open to underclassmen or outside guests.

Planning for graduation has proven to be difficult, with the school and district releasing multiple proposals for the ceremony as preparations progressed.

After setting in November a tentative May date for graduation to be held as usual in the University of Central Florida (UCF) basketball arena, Principal Trent Daniel announced in early February that graduation would be held in the auditorium, with each student signing up for a time slot and entering with their family.

Some questioned why a more traditional graduation could not be conducted given that live spectators had been allowed at athletic events throughout the year. One parent started an online petition calling for the county’s seniors to be given such a commencement; it received over 2,700 signatures.

OHS’s football field was considered as a location for the ceremony, but this would have greatly limited the number of guests per each graduate because chairs could not be placed on the turf itself.

Daniel released a revised plan later in the month after consulting with members of the Student Government Association. This version allowed students to graduate in groups with their friends, with each group comprising roughly 25 students, each of who could bring a substantial number of guests thanks to the 254-person capacity of the auditorium.

However, the current proposal for the ceremony came from the county level. On March 4, Superintendent Walt Griffin announced that UCF had cleared its football stadium, the Bounce House, for use for the graduations of each of the School searches for ways to adapt end-of-year activities district’s high schools. Based on the 174 to four like to dislike ratio on the YouTube video announcing the plan, it seems to be the most well-received one yet.

The development of arrangements for these events, and students’ reactions to them, will serve as the basis for stories in this edition. We’ll also cover the contentious search for the next superintendent of Seminole County Public Schools and students who took part in the Reddit-fueled surge of Gamestop stock. We’ll take a look at the long-awaited revival of EA Sports’s NCAA Football series as well as Marvel’s latest foray into TV with WandaVision.

The Lion’s Tale would like to commend and thank the students, teachers and administrators working hard to give seniors a memorable conclusion to their time in high school amidst this unprecedented school year.