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Superintendent's Family Message May 11, 2020

May 11, 2020

Today we are sharing our plans for honoring our graduating seniors. We’ve received updated guidance in recent days and have developed a three-prong approach to recognizing the Class of 2020. The approach seeks to celebrate those that would have received honors at each school’s Senior Honors Nights, seeks to minimize the loss of the actual graduation ceremony on May 30, 2020, and lastly seeks to provide that important need for students to be able to wear their gowns and feel the culmination of a four year high school career with photo opportunities at a special recognition event. These events are special to the Class of 2020 and have never been done before. 

In addition, each school is committed to dedicating a portion of their Homecoming 2020 events or  having a version of the traditional graduation ceremony in the future. The specifics of this type of opportunity will need to be planned at a later date as we receive more guidance and consider the situation at time. 

  1. Graduation broadcasts on Saturday, May 30, on Fox Illinois 55/27: Our graduation ceremonies were originally slated to occur on Saturday, May 30, and we have reserved a block of time that day to broadcast graduation ceremonies for Lanphier, Southeast, Springfield and Lawrence Education Center. The broadcasts will follow a traditional format with student speeches and performances, administrator addresses and the roll call of graduate names accompanied by a photo of each graduate.

  2. In-person opportunity to walk across a stage and take a photograph: Over the course of several days during the first week in June, each high school will host seniors and a limited number of guests to come to their home football fields, to experience the rite of passage of crossing the stage and taking that final photo as a high school student. A limited number of students will be scheduled at a time to adhere to social distancing guidelines. There will also be indoor plans in the event of inclement weather. 

  3. Neuhoff Media and Channel 1450 have offered to virtually honor students at each of the three high schools through the production of an honors and highlight video, which will be available on each school’s website and the 1450 website. Release dates for these videos are set for the week of May 18th.

You may have heard of other districts or schools postponing traditional graduation ceremonies and rescheduling them for later in the summer. Public health officials are not currently forecasting a definitive timeline for when and how restrictions may be lifted, so there is no guarantee that we would get to carry out plans made for later in the summer. That being said, we will keep that option open and seize the opportunity if it arises. 

We understand that many seniors and their families are disappointed by the limitations on this rite of passage. Our school and district administrators, some with seniors of their own, are also saddened that the Class of 2020 is not getting the send off they deserve. We are dedicated to making this special for this class of seniors and wish them well in their future endeavors. 

The Illinois State Board of Education shared the following information in the State Superintendent’s weekly update and for those interested, we are passing it along to you. 

Graduate Together: 

Luckily, we’re getting some help with that effort through a new nationwide initiative called Graduate Together, anchored by education advocate and NBA legend LeBron James. This one-hour primetime event will be broadcast live and commercial-free Saturday, May 16, at 7 p.m., on all three major television networks plus FOX, YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, TikTok, PeopleTV, and Complex Networks. The lineup, curated by high school students, includes a broad array of leaders, icons, and entertainers, like Bad Bunny, Barack Obama, the Jonas Brothers, Lena Waithe, Malala Yousafzai, Maren Morris, Megan Rapinoe, Pharrell Williams, Yara Shahidi, and YBN Cordae.

We all have an incredible opportunity to recognize the Illinois Class of 2020 in this event, by sharing videos and essays with the production team. They’re seeking submissions from high school seniors, their families, and their educators, and they prefer landscape (horizontal) format. Even if your entry doesn’t make it into the show, it may be distributed through social media or follow-up stories.