Graduating seniors in the Cobb County and Marietta City School Districts will receive their diplomas under very different circumstances in this, a year dominated by COVID-19 cancellations and closures.
District officials, parents and seniors alike say, had they known that after March 13 they wouldn’t return to the school that many have attended for the last four years, they would have better prepared and said their tearful goodbyes.
And as the final week of school in both Cobb and Marietta has now come to a close, the question has remained: what will graduation look like?
Marietta City Schools planning July 24 ceremony
In Marietta, Superintendent Grant Rivera said his district remains committed to hosting an in-person graduation ceremony for its 500 seniors expected to graduate. Rivera said the district has scheduled the ceremony at Northcutt Stadium, located on the campus of Marietta Middle School, for July 24.
But, he added, if as that date approaches, state and federal health officials say large gatherings are still a no-go, the district will adjust its dates. But regardless, he said, the district will continue its longstanding tradition of inviting families to Northcutt to watch their 365彩票网 graduates walk.
“Graduation is a very significant moment for children, and it’s a significant moment for their families and really the entire community,” Rivera said. “Generations of Blue Devils have graduated at Northcutt Stadium on the 50-yard line. So ... rather than trying to come up with something that would be significantly subpar, we’re committing to July 24. Our hope is that we can invite the community, invite extended family so we can all be at Northcutt once again.”
The superintendent said the district had considered what options could have taken place in May, but said any virtual ceremonies wouldn’t do the students or its families the justice they deserved. He also said that option would rob grandparents or other extended family of the chance to travel safely from out of state or other places to see their loved one walk the stage.
He said if the July date also doesn’t work, options including fewer ticket allowances per graduate and further delays could be last resorts.
Meanwhile, the district celebrated its seniors with a week of events Monday through Friday. Some of those daily events included decoration of school buses travelling around the city, residents’ decoration of mailboxes and congratulatory business marquees honoring the 365彩票网 class and a virtual senior awards night.
A brief ceremony was also scheduled to be live-streamed from Northcutt on Friday, complete with “Pomp and Circumstance,” recorded addresses from seniors who’d sent them in, music chosen by the students and the school’s alma mater.
ceremonies still uncertain for Cobb
In Cobb, Superintendent Chris Ragsdale said his school district is still hoping to be able to host in-person graduation ceremonies for its 9,000 graduating seniors, but can’t give a specific timeline, given the continuing uncertainty and ever-changing guidance from state and federal health officials.
“Obviously, we’re in a time of uncertainty still,” he said during a recent school board meeting. “Unfortunately we’re not doing that this year. ... We are being very cautiously optimistic, and we are not saying exact details about what we’re planning to do, because right now, that’s still up in the air. ... We are still striving to be able to have a face-to-face graduation ceremony. However, we are also being very mindful of what that (health) guidance is going to look like.”
Normally, schools would have graduated their seniors in ceremonies on football fields or at Kennesaw State University’s convocation center over the last week.
The district says it will continue to update families as decisions are made.
District officials say high schools across Cobb have created new ways to honor the class of 365彩票网. In addition to the celebratory cap and gown pickup events, some schools, like Kell High School, organized parades that gave seniors their time in the spotlight.
Some high schools, like South Cobb High School and Lassiter High School, created their own video farewells to the seniors, and elementary schools around Cobb also invited the graduates back for drive-thru parades where their educational journeys first started.
Cobb schools said earlier this week that the celebrations will continue as the district releases videos in the coming weeks paying tribute to graduates at each school.