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Ormond Beach Observer Tuesday, May 12, 2020 1 week ago

Volusia high school graduations to be held in July

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Also, Volusia County Schools hopes to provide prom-like 'senior celebrations' in late June if social distancing guidelines are lifted.
by: Jarleene Almenas Associate Editor

All Volusia County high school graduations will be held in July at the Ocean Center.

Volusia County Schools Superintendent Scott Fritz made the announcement during the virtual School Board meeting on Tuesday, May 12, where he outlined that graduates will receive between 2-3 tickets for their family to physically attend the ceremony. It will also be livestreamed. 

Fritz said that he and VCS staff met with student government association officers, and later with principals who also spoke with students. The consensus of those conversations was that the majority of students wanted a traditional graduation ceremony. 

Flagler Schools recently announced that its students' graduation ceremonies will be held at the Daytona International Speedway, with students riding across the finish line to receive their diplomas.

With 10 high schools in Volusia County, the Daytona International Speedway is not as feasible an option, said School Board member Ruben Colon. 

“When you look at the Speedway, it’s very easy for neighboring school districts to do that because they only have two high schools," he said.

University High School in Orange City has a graduating class of about 700 students. If each of them took a minute to ride around the Speedway track, the ceremony would last over 11 hours. 

Colon said he had mentioned hosting a traditional graduation at the Speedway, but in July, the weather for the families could be "miserable." 

School Board member Carl Persis expressed caution moving forward with the in-person graduation ceremonies.

“I’d be real careful about feeling any pressure to do this event inside anywhere," Persis said. "Let’s just be prudent.”

The hardest part of the pandemic is not knowing where the county will be two months from now, Colon said. He asked VCS have a backup plan in place in case circumstances dictate a traditional graduation is no longer possible.

Schoo Board Chair Ida Wright said VCS is working on one, and that they'll know more in two weeks when they see where the COVID-19 case numbers are at. 

Additionally, VCS is planning senior events to be held in the next few weeks, beginning with a drive-thru cap and gown and yearbook distribution the week of May 18.

Virtual awards ceremonies will be held during the weeks of May 26 and June 1. VCS is also hoping to give seniors a chance to experience another milestone: Prom. 

During the weeks of June 12-27, VCS is hoping to host free "senior celebrations" at each high school for the students — if social distancing guidelines are lifted. 

“We’re real excited about some of the events that we’ve got going on," Fritz said. "I will tell you that our principals and our staff are really trying to make this as memorable and as special for our children as they can. They recognize that our seniors have been through a lot.”

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