Pottawatomie County schools plan in-person graduations for class of 2021

Elisabeth Slay
The Shawnee News-Star
Graduation cap and diploma

Several Pottawatomie County schools will host in-person graduation ceremonies for the Class of 2021 in May.

Shawnee Public Schools announced a change to the date and location of Shawnee High School's Class of 2021 graduation ceremony from May 13 at the FireLake Arena to May 17 at Jim Thorpe Stadium at 7:30 p.m.

According to Superintendent Dr. April Grace, the district decided to make the change after speaking with SHS administrators and senior class sponsors.

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"This change is an effort to give all our seniors and their families an in-person graduation experience that will accommodate the least restriction of crowd size," Grace said.

She explained the district would like to give seniors the opportunity to safely have more of their family members present at the ceremony.

Grace said changing the location and date of graduation is the best course of action as it will allow seniors and their families to participate fully in the occasion.

"(It) will allow us the most flexibility in accommodating crowd size, as well as multiple conflicting events that could negatively impact some seniors’ participation in these end-of-year events," Grace said.

The annual senior parade will be Sunday, May 16, at 3 p.m., and more information about the parade will be released in early May.

According to Cherity Pennington, director of communications and library services, there will be a seating limit at the ceremony based on the capacity at the stadium and SHS administrators and senior sponsors are working out weather contingency plans.

In addition to Shawnee, Tecumseh High School will host its in-person graduation ceremony Wednesday, May 19, at 7 p.m. at the FireLake Arena.

According to THS Principal Randy Dilbeck, masks will be required in the arena and during the ceremony.

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"Ticket allotment per Tecumseh 2021 graduate will be determined by COVID-19 cases in our area at graduation time," Dilbeck said. "Thank you for your loyalty and cooperation."

He explained the Baccalaureate ceremony will be held May 16 at 3 p.m. at Sharon Baptist Church.

Bethel High School will host its in-person graduation ceremony for the Class of 2021 Saturday, May 15, at FireLake Arena.

The event will start at 10 a.m. with the doors opening at 8:30 p.m.

According to BHS Principal Jeremy Stewart, the high school would like to welcome all family and friends of the seniors to attend the ceremony.

"While reviewing COVID-19 safety protocols for gatherings, Bethel Schools will be supportive of our venue host and honor the required mask mandate for all participants and spectators in the arena," Stewart said.

He explained the school will be mailing out a calendar of the end of the year senior events.

In addition, Dale High School will also will have its in-person graduation ceremony at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, May 20.

Check back for updates.