Lyon County Board of Education has set graduation for the Class of 2020. Commencement will be at 10 a.m. on Saturday, July 11.
Unable to host a ceremony on the original date of May 22 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the board had been waiting to see if state restrictions lift to the point that an in-person graduation could be held. By now, most Kentucky public school districts have already offered virtual and “drive-through” graduations with no plans for an in-person commencement exercise. Lyon County has, though, hosted a senior parade on the last day of school, May 8.
While restrictions remain, the school district got approval of their plan from the Governor’s office and Kentucky Department of Education earlier Monday. That plan for a graduation in the high school gym will include only two visitors per graduate, save the six valedictorians and salutatorians who are allowed four guests. The board felt the academic achievements of those six students warranted reward.
There are 56 graduates expected for graduation. There were 58 members in the senior class, but two graduates will have left for basic training in the U.S. Army before July 11. Both of those were given separate formal ceremonies to receive their diploma.
Altogether, Superintendent of Schools Russ Tilford is planning for 228 people when staff, administration and board members are included. will be required to wear a mask.
“This allows them to graduate as a class and not individuals,” he said.
The ceremony will be broadcast live on simulcast on YouTube Live to offer friends and family members of graduates a chance to watch in on graduation.
The district was allowed to host commencement as early as June 29, when Gov. Andy Beshear has designated a third phase of reopening the state. The board wanted to have the graduation as soon as possible, but felt less than two weeks from now was not enough time to give families to plan for a Monday evening ceremony.
The first Saturday after June 29 is Independence Day, so July 11 was the next logical weekend date for graduation.
“Our small size allowed us to do this,” Tilford said. “If we’d had 250 graduates, we wouldn’t be able to do this.”
State guidelines allow groups of 50 or fewer beginning June 29, so the district needed a waiver to meet those rules. Had the district’s plan for 228 people in the 1,500-capacity gym at one time not been approved, there was an option to host four separate services.
“I look forward to being able to see our students walk across that stage,” Tilford said. “It may not mean that much to some today, but down the road, we hope they’ll look back and appreciate it.”
High school Principal Tom Radivonyk said all families will be contacted with further information on the ceremony.
The high school gym is not air-conditioned, so Tilford suggested a morning ceremony in order to offer a more comfortable atmosphere before the summer sun heats up the building. The board, two members of which have children in the graduating class, agreed.
In other action, the board cut the number of absences allowed without a doctor’s note by two. Beginning with the 2020-21 academic year, which is set to begin Aug. 11, students will be allowed only five parent notes and six other unexcused absences. Board action on Monday cut the parent notes from seven.
After those 11, Tilford said, students may not be allowed to make up missed work and the director of pupil personnel is permitted to start home visits. Further absences could result in truancy action.