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Shawnee High School cancels July in-person graduation ceremony

Elisabeth Slay
The Shawnee News-Star
Shawnee High School graduates picked up their caps and gown in May.

Shawnee High School announced it would cancel the class of 2020 graduation ceremony scheduled for July 17.

Superintendent Dr. April Grace said in a statement released Thursday that the district felt it needed to cancel the event due to COVID-19 concerns. 

“Although we had hoped to give our Class of 2020 a formal, in-person graduation ceremony, crowd-size restrictions at Shawnee’s FireLake Arena and limited available seating allowing for social distancing at Jim Thorpe Stadium make hosting an in-person ceremony impossible this summer,” Grace said.

While the ceremony has been canceled, Grace said she spoke with senior leaders who wanted to hold some sort of event in which they could wear their graduation caps and gowns and say farewell to one another.

“Our seniors indicated that what was most important to them was to have an opportunity for a photograph of themselves graduating and a chance to spend time with their classmates,” Grace said. “We understand that some seniors may not want to participate in this, but we have tried to honor their wishes and have found alternative ways to celebrate the graduates.” 

Grace said the district has decided to give seniors an opportunity to take pictures in their caps and gowns receiving their diplomas from Principal Matt Johnson on stage July 17 from 7 to 8 p.m. in the PAAC Auditorium.

“Following this photo opportunity, from 8 p.m. until midnight, a combination Senior Sendoff and Project Graduation celebration will be offered to the Class of 2020 on the football field,” Grace said.

In her statement, Grace said while COVID-19 has caused so much disruption to their final year, she hopes the class of 2020 leaves SHS with the knowledge that they are loved and “will always be a Part of the Pack.”