Washburn and Bayfield school districts plan to hold mostly pre-taped virtual graduation ceremonies followed by parent-organized car parades for community members to personally congratulate freshly minted grads as they drive by.
Washburn High School will be following its traditional script when it comes to the virtual commencement ceremony set for 2 p.m. on June 7, Principal Heidi King said.
A video is being recorded that will include the welcoming speech, valedictorian and salutatorian speeches, presentation of scholarships and a senior slide show. However, a brief portion of the ceremony will air live, King said.
Bayfield High School’s virtual-ceremony plans follow tightly along Washburn’s lines, but it also will include personal visits to the homes of all 32 graduates on June 5 to distribute diplomas, honor cords and medals.
Much of the ceremony scheduled for 2 p.m. on June 6 will be prerecorded, Principal Shellie Swanson said. The valedictorian and salutatorian speeches and a slide presentation will be videotaped, and parents and students can watch on Zoom.
After the ceremonies, both Washburn and Bayfield graduation events move outside for the public to view while maintaining social distancing as parents are organizing car parades in honor of the 2020 graduates.
Seniors taking part in the “Castle Guard Commencement Convoy” will begin lining up at about 4 p.m. on June 7 at Thompson’s West End Park.
“This is just something we can do to celebrate the graduates and have some common recognition for them in a safe way that will help them get some acknowledgement for their accomplishments,” said Mary Motiff, a parade organizer and mother of senior Charles Motiff.
The parade route runs along Highway 13 so people can space themselves out and cheer on the graduates safely. After the students drive through town, they will pick up their diplomas curbside at the football field.
Motiff urged volunteers to help deck out sidewalks and businesses along the route the week of the parade. The school lawn has already been decorated with professional photos Washburn artist Jamey Penney-Ritter took of the grads.
Bayfield’s parade — also planned by senior class parents — will start on the north side of town at about 4 p.m. June 6. The cars will travel down Rittenhouse Avenue before turning toward Red Cliff. There the students will drive through Old Housing, New Housing and Hill Side Housing before going back up Blue Berry Road to Daley Road to Birch Bark Trail. The parade ends back on Highway 13 near Daley Road.
“It’s a pretty big parade route for people to line and not be in a crowd,” Swanson said.
Both King and Swanson said they hadn’t felt pressure from students and parents to hold in-person graduation ceremonies.
Bayfield staff met with seniors once a week to discuss plans, Swanson said, and the students understood why the school wanted to go virtual as they didn’t want to see COVID-19 spread through a community where many kids are being raised by grandparents.
“The fear of giving it to grandparents is huge,” Swanson said.
If it appears safe to do so, Washburn may schedule an event for the grads later this summer to give them some closure, King said. The school recognizes that ending their final year of high school on such a sour note has been difficult for seniors and parents.
“We’re trying to do our best,” King said.
For more information about the Castle Guard Commencement Convoy and updates on the car parade’s route visit facebook.com/events/172114344199302.
Information on Bayfield’s parade can be found on the school’s Facebook page.