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Heads up: B-UHS Class of 2020 must vote on graduation ceremony options by Thursday, April 23

BUCKHANNON – West Virginia Governor Jim Justice on Tuesday announced that to prevent the spread of COVID-19, West Virginia public schools would not be reopening before the end of the 2019-2020 school year.

Justice said he “absolutely hated” this decision – especially for graduating seniors, the Class of 2020. He urged all county schools systems to begin working to secure a plan for graduation ceremonies over the summer months to honor those students who put in long years to complete their education.

“It’s so meaningful to lots and lots of families and kids, so I urge all schools to find a place (for graduation ceremonies in the summer) and to use us (the West Virginia Department of Education) in every way to be able to make that a reality,” Justice said during Tuesday’s COVID-19 update.

Justice urged all students – especially graduating seniors – to persevere despite the circumstances.

“We need to run through the finish lines,” he said. “I know it is a terrible inconvenience to everyone, and I get that and everything, but this’ll pass, and you’ve got a long life ahead of you.”

Anticipating that this may happen, Upshur County Schools this week rolled out a survey which will be sent to each member of the Buckhannon-Upshur High School Class of 2020 to find out how they want this year’s graduation ceremony to look and feel.

Upshur County Schools Superintendent Dr. Sara Lewis-Stankus said seniors will receive a survey to complete this week, which will be distributed via Livegrades on Thursday, April 23, letting the Class of 2020’s voices be heard. She said as soon as the governor made his announcement, members of the B-UHS Student Council and Senior Class Officers went to work on a video which will accompany the survey; the video is designed to explain each option to Upshur County seniors.

The letter lets students know that their ‘big day’ is a big deal to everyone. It also states that all graduates will receive their diplomas by May 22, 2020 and adds that, regardless of the option the graduate selects, the ceremony will be live-streamed, and a keepsake video will be provided. Also, a photographer will attend to provide photos for graduates.

The letter further states that all options provided are based on the approval of the Upshur-Buckhannon Health Department, pending weather and are subject to change.

The projected options include:

  • A photo opportunity, described as a quick and simple option, on May 20-22 for those who wish to simply ‘get a diploma’ and move on to the next chapter of their lives.
  • A modified face-to-face graduation in small groups at B-UHS where on designated dates in May and at specified times, graduates would come to B-UHS in caps and gowns in groups of five to cross a stage individually when their names are called. Seniors would submit a one-minute vignette of their future plans and pictures would be taken with the principals without physical contact before being escorted out a different exit. A video containing all photos would be posted at a later date for families to view.
  • A modified face-to-face graduation at B-UHS, utilizing social distancing, on May 22 at B-UHS field. Graduates would have limited family attendance, and the school would have a photographer to take pictures while seniors cross the stage and receive their diploma, and the ceremony would be live-streamed.
  • Modified face-to-face at West Virginia Wesleyan College, utilizing social distancing with graduation on May 22 with graduates only with limited family attendance. There would be a photographer there to take pictures while seniors cross the stage and receive their diplomas and the ceremony would be live-streamed.
  • The final option is that the graduate chooses not to participate and wants their diploma mailed to them.

Stankus said students may vote for two of the ideas and wanted to remind those who have another idea to include it in their response to the survey. View it online here.

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