Date is set for Saturday, July 25, but will it be in person or online?

Smyrna High School administrators know graduation will be Saturday, July 25, but no one knows the type of ceremony they’ll be able to have.

“We have picked the day because it’s important for families to be able plan for that,” said Principal Stacy Cook.

Administrators, class advisors and senior class leaders are working on plans for a live ceremony if they’re able to have one, but also for a virtual graduation online if coronavirus restrictions are still in place.

“We’re preparing for three options,” said Cook.

The first is the usual ceremony in the football stadium with graduates and guests, with the contingency plan in case of bad weather to hold the ceremony in the gym.

The second plan is still a live ceremony but with a limited number of guests per graduate, possibly requiring masks and keeping at least six feet apart.

The third is a “virtual” ceremony available to watch online.

“We haven’t worked out all the details, but we want to let the students and families know that we are still going to recognize the seniors’ accomplishments,” said Cook.

Planning from a distance

Cook said it’s been a challenge to try to plan three ceremonies when she can’t talk to everyone at once in the same room. The group has been using Zoom video conferencing, phone conferencing, emails and phone calls.

“I’ve spent more time on Zoom in the past few weeks than I have in my entire life,” said Cook. “When this is all over, I don’t ever want to use Zoom again.”

Administrators and class advisors reached out to senior class leaders to get their input.

“We wanted to get their perspective and ask them what will make them happy, what’s really important to them, and what we might do without if changes have to be made,” Cook said.

Remote lessons

The graduation planning is similar to how teachers and students have been communicating about lessons since the “temporary” closing of schools in mid-March turned into closing for the rest of the 2019-20 academic year.

Cook said distance learning has been challenging.

“It’s a struggle for everyone because we were all thrown into it so quickly,” she said. “We didn’t have much time to figure out how to do it and what platform to use.”

To reach as many students as possible, teachers have been using a variety of methods including video conferences, phone conferences and emails.

“The teachers have been communicating with each other about the best way to contact students,” Cook said. “A teacher who’s had trouble contacting a student might ask another teacher who also has that student about the best way to reach him or her. They’ve been trying to reach everyone.”

While the teachers have been handling their instructional duties, they’ve also had the same problems as anyone else who’s had to work from home during the pandemic including where and how to set up a home office, trying to get the technology to work and arranging lessons around the family’s schedule when everyone’s home at once.

“I would like to say thank you to our families, teachers and students,” said Cook. “It’s difficult for everyone. Work has now invaded your home, when there used to be more of a separation. Parents are now doing more teaching and keeping track of when their children are supposed to be meeting and completing assignments. I really appreciate everyone’s efforts.”

SENIOR CLASS SCHEDULE

This is the schedule as of May 5 for senior class events. Changes will be posted on the Smyrna High School website, https://shs.smyrna.k12.de.us, and the Smyrna High School Facebook page.

Josten’s caps and gowns

The pickup date for Josten's caps and gowns was Monday, May 18.

Anyone who hasn’t ordered a cap and gown can do so at Jostens.com.

For more information, email Lindsey.Alexitch@smyrna.k12.de.us, Nicole.Trueman@smyrna.k12.de.us or Stacy.Cook@smyrna.k12.de.us.

June 6 or 10 – Senior gifts and yearbooks

At the student pick up/drop off lane on the Smyrna side of the school. Students are assigned to report based on their last name. See the schedule below. Students and passengers must stay in their vehicle. Staff will bring the items to the vehicle. Students should come either June 6 or 10, whichever is more convenient.

Saturday, June 6

Last name A to F: 12:30-1:15 p.m.

Last name G to L: 1:15-2 p.m.

Last name M to S: 2-2:45 p.m.

Last name T to Z: 2:45-3:30 p.m.

Wednesday, June 10

Last name A to F: 3:30-4:15 p.m.

Last name G to L: 4:15-5 p.m.

Last name M to S: 5-5:45 p.m.

Last name T to Z: 5:45-6:30 p.m.

June 15 – Athletic awards

A virtual announcement of awards earned by athletes will be posted on the SHS Facebook page and Smyrna High School website.

June 20 – Senior awards

A virtual announcement of scholarships and awards earned by seniors will be posted on the SHS Facebook page and Smyrna High School website.

July 22 at 4 p.m. – Graduation practice

Only if the school is able to hold a live graduation ceremony. If there are still restrictions on gathering in public, then no practice will be held. Details for practice will be shared with seniors as the day approaches. If a live graduation is allowed, this practice will be held at the school.

July 23 at 7 p.m. – Baccalaureate

LifeHouse Church, Smyrna. Virtual or live depending on state-mandated restrictions. Details will be shared with seniors as the day approaches.

July 25 at 6:30 p.m. – Graduation

Option 1 – Ceremony live in the stadium or gym as in past years.

Option 2 – Modified live ceremony in the stadium or gym that would include only the graduates and a limited number of guests for each graduate.

Option 3 – Virtual ceremony online.

As the day approaches, administrators will tell seniors which option the school is permitted to use.

June 12, 2021 – Class of 2020 reunion

The details of this event are still being worked out and will be communicated as soon as possible. The hope is to use this reunion in 2021 to give the Class of 2020 a “final celebration” they weren’t able to have this year.

Signs honoring graduates

Seniors should be on the lookout around town for special banners that have been created from the photo in the gym of the classmates forming their “20” and a special billboard of the same photo. Administrators are using the electronic sign in front of the school along with SHS Facebook and SHS Instagram to honor seniors in extra-curricular groups each week.