CLAY CITY, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — After many area high school graduation ceremonies were postponed or altered last year due to COVID-19, upcoming weekend celebrations aim to create a sense of normalcy for the Class of 2021.
School officials said communication with local health departments and coronavirus mitigation strategies are contributing factors toward these events taking place; however, schools could potentially see capacity limits and restrictions set.
For Clay City High School Senior, Trinity Sankey, it was a surreal moment to see her school’s gymnasium decorated for her graduation ceremony.
“I’m very thankful I get to (graduate) and thankful to see all my class graduate with me,” Sankey said. “The fact that some family gets to be here is a big deal.”
Sankey knows not having a graduation ceremony was a possibility.
“It would’ve been disappointing to not have it, already so much of senior year was taken away and felt different,” she added.
In accordance with the Clay County Health Department, CCHS’s ceremony will include pod-style seating for families, a social distance between graduates and a mask mandate.
“It’s a lot more preparation and tedious things,” Clay City High School Principal Jeff Bell said. “Things that you just weren’t trained in education 101 for. The great thing about it has been the people. The kids have reacted well,”
For weeks, Linton-Stockton High School was preparing to host a ceremony with no capacity limit. This week, however, it was announced a county increase of COVID-19 cases now means a 50% capacity limit and masks requirement.
“We were doing well in the blue, that means unlimited attendance. Numbers rose putting us back to yellow, we were really hopeful we could go back to blue,” Linton-Stockton High School Principal Alicia Cornelius said.
Miner graduates are permitted eight tickets each, doubling the amount last year’s graduating class got.
“We have the best team here, we thought of all strategies to insure graduation would happen,” Cornelius added.
In Vigo County, Terre Haute North, South and West Vigo graduation ceremonies will each take place in the Hulman Center, according to Director of Communications Bill Riley.
“We’ve approved all of these events with the health department,” Riley said. “We are following Indiana State University’s guidelines for these events since they are our hosts. What that means is the Hulman Center is at 25% capacity.”
South and North graduates will have four tickets each, with West Vigo getting 10. Masks are required for all in attendance while keeping a social distance.
Many schools will also offer a live stream of graduation ceremonies for family members and friends unable to attend.