By Jared Janzen
HALSTEAD—High school graduation is a day students look forward to for years, and while this year’s seniors had to wait a little longer than normal, that day is nearly here for Halstead’s class of 2020. Halstead’s graduation ceremony is set for 7:30 p.m. on Monday, June 22, at the high school gym.
“We really want as traditional of a graduation as possible,” High School Principal Joe Gerber said. “We’re close to that.”
Each graduate may have eight guests. They’ve been asked to submit a list of their guests, which the school will use when allowing people into the ceremony.
“It’s the first time ever the public is not invited,” Gerber said. “Graduation is limited to family and school personnel only.”
He estimated Halstead normally has about 1,500 people attend its graduation, but this year they’re expecting only around 600.
“It’s well under half of the normal,” Gerber said.
The district will also be live streaming the ceremony on Facebook for those unable to attend.
Doors will open no earlier than 6:45 p.m. The school expects to have two different entrance points. Guests for each graduate will sit together and should social distance from other groups.
Other changes to the ceremony include no performances by the band or choir. Seniors will still receive their diploma cover when they cross the stage, but Gerber doesn’t expect there to be any handshakes or hugs in the process.
The school district encourages those in attendance to follow state and local health social distancing guidelines during and after the ceremony. Any graduate or family member who is sick or immune compromised should not attend.
The district had originally announced its ceremony for June 20, but had to reschedule due to changing guidelines. June 22 is currently the earliest that the school could have a gathering of more than 45 people. Gerber noted that the school wanted to hold graduation as soon as possible, so seniors could move on into the next phase of their lives.
“We have a really good senior class and a lot of parents have been very supportive of this process over the past two months,” Gerber said.
In the event that the phased reopening plan changes and prevents Halstead from holding a June 22 graduation ceremony, the backup date is 4 p.m. on Saturday, July 11. This would be the final alternative for some form of a ceremony.