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H-F staff plans for graduation and special senior event

Homewood-Flossmoor High School will have a graduation and an event for seniors, but COVID-19 regulations mean neither will look like the traditional events of past years.

When members of the senior class petitioned in February for a graduation ceremony and something that would resemble the prom, administrators said they were working on plans. 

Nothing is final, Principal Jerry Anderson said during the school board’s Planning Committee meeting Thursday, March 18. 

“All this is premised on the (COVID-19) numbers continuing to go the way they are going and that nothing happens. This may change,” she cautioned.

 Anderson outlined several options staff is looking at.

“We’re looking for as many opportunities that we can that will be meaningful for (the seniors),” she said. Honors convocation is likely to be virtual again this year, but hopefully graduation and the senior event will be outdoors and in-person.

If the weather is good on Saturday, May 29, H-F will hold three graduation ceremonies that day, dividing the class of 708 students for three events. Students will be allowed to select the ceremony they want. The tentative schedule has graduations at 9 a.m., noon and 3 p.m. 

Students will proceed to the football field from both the North and South buildings. Speeches will be pre-recorded. Details on music and a choir performance are still in discussion, Anderson said.

Due to social distancing rules, each graduate will receive only two guest tickets for graduation. The schedule allows students and guests to arrive on campus an hour ahead of the ceremony, and stay an hour afterward for diploma pick-up and departure.  

If the weather is inclement on Saturday, the ceremony will be moved indoors to Sunday, May 30. Every graduate will be on campus at once. Two guest tickets will be given to each graduate. Guests will be in the auditorium and students will proceed through the halls of H-F to the auditorium. Speeches will be heard throughout the building. 

Each student will be announced and walk across the stage, then exit to the Fine Arts wing for pictures before leaving the building.

“It’s not a ceremony. It’s less than optimal,” Anderson said. “It’s nothing like what we’ve done in the past, but it does give the kids the chance to see other kids and have some ceremony as opposed to sitting in their living room with their families like we did last year,” she said, referring to the virtual graduation the class of 2020 had.

Senior Event
Two general plans are in the works for a senior event “because we know we can’t do prom the way we’ve always done prom,” Anderson said. No date was announced.

The first runs on a schedule. Groups of 10 will meet at the North Building and take pictures in the fieldhouse or on the building’s balcony. From there, students will walk the path to South Building. With social distancing guidelines in effect, they will be escorted by adults to the gym, where a DJ will entertain students for about 15 minutes. The next station will be for photography.

Students will have a chance to go on the senior deck, walk the halls and see the senior class photos on the library windows, then get a walk-through of the new Fine Arts wing on their way out.

A second option hinges on the weather. This event would give students the chance to enjoy bites from food trucks set up on the H-F access road and then file into the stadium for photos. There would be a dance on the field, and possibly movie highlights of the four years of the Class of 2021.

After the presentation, committee members Debbie Berman, Pam Jackson and Nate Legardy thanked Anderson and the staff for their work on these projects.

Berman said staff has put in a tremendous amount “of time to planning in addition to everything else they’re doing. We’re just really appreciative that we have such a thoughtful staff that’s really trying to do right by the kids in everything, not just learning but having a conclusion to their senior year, etc.,” Berman said.

“I know the students and the parents will be eternally grateful,” Jackson said. 

Legardy commended staff that will be dealing with logistics.

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