Springwood planned multiple contingencies

Published 7:35 am Friday, May 15, 2020

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When Gov. Kay Ivey started to announce limitations on gatherings in mid-March, many high school seniors probably wondered what it meant for graduation ceremonies.

On May 8, Ivey amended her safer at home order, which loosened restrictions that had been put in place— specifically restrictions on gatherings.

Since she announced the changes, local schools have been announced their plans for graduation. Those plans had been discussed for weeks before being announced.

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Some schools, like Chambers Academy, let the students and their families decide on what day to hold their celebration, which will take place on June 18.

Springwood School came up with several plans to make sure it would have a graduation ceremony for the class of 2020.

Before Ivey announced her changes in the safer at home order on May 8, Springwood was planning to have a graduation ceremony.

Its current plan for May 23 is to have a closed ceremony where all 44 graduating seniors and their families will be allowed to attend. Since each senior is allowed six tickets, the ceremony will take place on the football field. The stage is in the west end zone while chairs, spaced 6 feet apart, will lead up to the stage. The seniors will be closest to the stage, while their families and faculty members are behind them.

Seating is designated so families don’t need to rush to try and get the best seats.

“Our stadium only has so much square footage, so we couldn’t put any more than two people [in the stands] per senior,” Springwood headmaster Lowrie McCown said.

There will not be a keynote speaker, but the valedictorian and salutatorian will speak followed by McCown and a prayer.

The ceremony will also be broadcast online on Facebook, Instagram and Youtube.

However, there were six contingency plans leading up to Ivey’s announcement one week ago.

“We’re networking with schools all over the state, just to see what schools are doing,” McCown said. “Everyone is trying to figure it out on the fly.”

Of the six contingency plans, the most likely was nearly identical to the finalized plan, but it would have limited each student to two tickets for family members, who would have been in the stadium and not on the field. This was plan approved by local and state authorities, but wasn’t needed after Ivey loosened state restrictions.

“We had one of our board members that basically went to bat for that, and we basically let them know how we would be compliant with all the social distance rules,” McCown said. “They were just good to us.”

If that plan had gone into action, the graduation would not have been announced or broadcasted.

“We’re not going to brag about it or promote it because we were just gracious,” McCown said.

Another plan was to have a virtual commencement. The ceremony would have a video of all the seniors’ pictures and they would have a speaker talk just like normal. It would follow the format of the school’s virtual athletic banquet, which was broadcast on YouTube on Tuesday.

Springwood had also had discussed several different drive through ceremonies. The main idea was the students’ families would be in their cars in the main parking lot, while students walked the stage.

Springwood’s graduation is scheduled for May 23 at 9 a.m. Temperatures will be taken and everyone is required to wear a mask.