Spotsylvania Co. plans ‘in-person,’ socially distant high school graduations

Graduating seniors at Virginia’s five public high schools in Spotsylvania County will have the chance to take a celebratory walk across the stage to receive a diploma, but nobody will be in the audience.

With ongoing coronavirus-related restrictions on large gatherings, Scott Baker, superintendent of schools, said ceremonies for the 1,700 graduates of Courtland, Chancellor, Massaponax, Riverbend and Spotsylvania high schools “will be held in a controlled setting in which social distancing and other recommended safety measures are practiced.”

Each student’s “ceremony” will be private, by appointment-only.

“Each graduate will wear their cap and gown, hear their name announced, walk across the stage, receive the diploma they have earned, turn their tassel and have their photo taken,” according to a news release.

“Graduates will also be able to include four immediate family members to accompany them for their special moment.”

A video including speeches and other aspects associated with the graduation ceremony will be produced. In addition, each school will recognize its Class of 2020 in homecoming football games this fall.

“Despite the unprecedented challenges, seniors and their families deserve the best we can provide in honoring their monumental achievements,” Baker wrote. “Their deep disappointment in having the final months of a long journey cut short, is more than understandable.”

The school system said it weighed the possibility of holding traditional large ceremonies in late summer or fall, but there were no guarantees that would be possible, given Virginia’s phased reopening approach.

Prince William County announced plans to hold graduation ceremonies in August, but acknowledged plans may change based on public health restrictions.

“I know I speak for all of our leaders and school board members when I say that I am so proud of every Charger, Cougar, Panther, Bear, and Knight who has earned their diploma,” Baker said.

Spotsylvania graduations will be held the weeks of May 18 to May 29.

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Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a reporter at WTOP since 1997. Through the years, Neal has covered many of the crimes and trials that have gripped the region. Neal's been pleased to receive awards over the years for hard news, feature reporting, use of sound and sports.

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