Schools plan virtual grad ceremonies

Area high school seniors are graduating on their original commencement dates, but the ceremonies won’t be in gymnasiums or on football fields.

Instead graduation events will be conducted remotely as recommended by the Minnesota Department of Education in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19 within communities.

“Remember that COVID-19 is a highly contagious virus that is fatal, especially for the elderly and those with underlying conditions, and is still spreading throughout Minnesota,” the MDE release stated.

“Staying home is a crucial way to slow the spread of COVID-19 and to collectively protect our communities.”

Schools were given options to delay commencement ceremonies, but the four school districts in the Star Herald coverage area will graduate seniors as originally scheduled.

The area graduation ceremonies are set as follows:

•Luverne, 2 p.m. Sunday, May 24, virtual online ceremony followed by a parade through Luverne.

•Hills-Beaver Creek, 7 p.m. Friday, May 22, parking lot ceremony

•Adrian, 7 p.m., Friday, May 22, parade. A online virtual ceremony takes place Saturday, May 23.

•Ellsworth, 7 p.m. Friday, May 29.

Each school is tailoring ceremonies to comply with social distancing guidelines and with plans to provide a meaningful experience to students, parents and the public.

Events could change as the state’s Stay-Home order is set to expire on Monday.

Luverne and Hills-Beaver Creek are considering two different options suggested by the MDE.



Luverne High School Principal Ryan Johnson indicated in a memo last week to seniors and their parents that hours of discussions have taken place on how to handle graduation ceremonies.

Ideas included postponement, a football field venue, a parents-only audience, students-only ceremony and a drive-in commencement.

Ultimately it was decided that a virtual ceremony was the safest option for the school’s 92 graduating seniors and their families.

The virtual ceremony will be watched from home, but it will feature many of the same components as an in-person ceremony.

“We are planning on recording the many pieces of graduation, editing them and pushing them together for families/friends/teachers/other to watch online,” Johnson wrote.

A graduate parade will take place following the May 24 virtual event. A designated route is currently being developed.

A Senior Night is potentially planned for later this summer for the graduates to have one final time together.

The tentative date is Aug. 1. Johnson wrote that nothing specific has been planned, and in order to happen, the current social distancing guidelines would need to be loosened.

A virtual baccalaureate service for Luverne seniors is planned for 2 p.m. Sunday. The event is organized by the local ministerial association.


Hills-Beaver Creek

Hills-Beaver Creek Secondary Principal Molly Schilling told board members Monday night, H-BC’s parking lot graduation will have each household in a separate car, where they stay at least six feet apart. The ceremony itself will be virtual and watched together.

“We are making sure we are following the governor’s and Department of Education’s guidelines and setting a good example,” H-BC Secondary Principal Molly Schilling told board members Monday night.

Schilling met via Zoom Tuesday morning with the 17 graduating seniors who will help finalize details.

Baccalaureate ceremonies were canceled for H-BC. A prom event is temporarily scheduled for June, but details are not yet in place.

“It won’t be a traditional prom, but it will be something meaningful,” Schilling said.

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