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Commencement Continues, Despite COVID-19

By Staff | Jun 3, 2020

Ryan Bahr, a senior at Hughesville, hangs loose during last week’s recorded commencement processional. The edited version of the video will include all of Bahr’s classmates in similar fashion, receiving their diplomas, and will be shown at a designated area within the Lycoming County Fairgrounds on Wednesday, June 3.

For students at Hughesville High School in the East Lycoming School District, a survey revealed that they didn’t want to postpone graduation beyond mid-July, according to Michael Pawlik, superintendent in the district. A face-to-face graduation is planned for one of those days, Pawlik said.

“As part of our graduation, we want to recognize our seniors on Wednesday, June 3, because that’s still an important date for them. We’re working with a company to produce a video with our kids,” he shared at a recent board meeting. He said that a number of students the administration had spoken with seemed excited with the idea.

“Basically, when we brought the kids in for their caps and gowns, they processed across the high school stage which we recorded,” Pawlik said. That recording will be edited as part of a video of an online graduation, including various speeches. A video using the TikTok app will also be created with the students.

Then, at 6:30 p.m., vehicles will be permitted by ticket only at the Third Street entrance of the fairgrounds. Vehicles in excess of a standard SUV are prohibited. Because of current COVID-19 restrictions, everyone must remain in their vehicles at all times before, during, and after the show. No restroom facilities will be available at the fairgrounds.

Friends and family members can also view the show starting at 7 p.m. from any internet-connected device from a link posted on the school’s website on June 2. Following the 7 p.m. show, students will be led through the school’s parking lot for a special farewell send-off, Pawlik said.

For seniors at the Montgomery Area School District, administration is planning on having two graduation ceremonies depending on Gov. Tom Wolf’s plan to reopen the state according to Joseph Stoudt, junior/senior high school principal. The informal ceremony, set to take place on Friday, June 5 with a parade driving through the borough ending at Pike Drive-In theater on Route 15. The theater will open at 8 p.m. with a 9 p.m. screening of the senior class video containing old photos and videos from the last four years all submitted by students. An in-person graduation is planned for Aug. 7 at the junior/senior high school auditorium.

Stoudt added that this will be a limited ticketed event for graduates and it will also be livestreamed. In order for this in-person celebration to happen, Stoudt said 250 people could be able to gather by Aug. 1, according to Wolf’s plan. All graduates will also have their diplomas mailed to them by June 5.

Plans at Muncy High School include have a traditional graduation ceremony Aug. 7, according to Dr. Craig Skaluba, the district’s superintendent. The number of people attending the ceremony will be determined by the different phases established by the governor.

To show students know how much they were missed since mid-March, and to wish everyone a safe and happy summer, a car parade will travel through the district on Thursday, June 4 starting at 4 p.m. The parade will include school buses, fire trucks, motorcycles, a police vehicle and numerous faculty and staff driving their own vehicles. A PDF of the parade route can be obtained on the school’s website.

Skaluba said that over the course of June 5, 8, and 9, the district would be conducting individual appointments with students. He added that the district is looking at hiring a videographer to try to piece together a ceremony from the appointments just in case the ceremony later in the summer cannot be held.