Shawnee High School's Class of 2021 graduation ceremony date, venue change

Elisabeth Slay
The Shawnee News-Star
Jim Thorpe Stadium. Provided/SPS

Shawnee Public Schools has 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, with the ceremony starting 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.

"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.

"Our graduation had originally been scheduled for May 13 at Firelake Arena," Grace sad. "This indoor venue continues to have crowd size limitations, a policy we respect, that if still in place in May would limit our graduates to having no more than two or three family members in attendance."

In addition, Grace said the spring 5A OSSAA state playoffs would have caused a scheduling conflict which was something the district was not aware of at the time of planning the ceremony as the playoff schedule wasn't published.

"The 5A OSSAA spring state playoffs begin on or around May 13, causing a potential conflict for several of our senior athletes and their families who could be involved in playoff competitions, but who want to participate in both the ceremony and Project Graduation," Grace said.

The educator explained 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.

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.

Grace said she'd like to thank the community for their understanding as the district strives to make the end of the year wonderful for the Class of 2021.

"We are excited to uphold Shawnee traditions while fashioning innovative ways to celebrate as we continue navigating health and safety concerns," Grace said.

Along with graduation, Grace said the annual Senior Parade will be Sunday, May 16 at 3 p.m.

More information about the parade will be released in early May.

Check back for updates.