May 1, 2020

PLSD Virtual Graduation Exercises Include a Live Streamed “Graduation Walk”

Virtual Graduation Details Announcement image

Dear PLSD Class of 2020,

Last Thursday, we announced plans to move to a Virtual Graduation due to Governor DeWine’s extension of the Coronavirus pandemic “stay-at-home” order for the rest of the school year. At that time, we announced that our board and leadership team had not worked out the details of what the virtual program would look like. Meantime, seniors and parents sent us suggestions of creative ways to honor graduates that would mimic traditional commencement ceremonies, yet allow for appropriate social distancing.

Our board and administrative team listened and carefully considered your suggestions to develop a plan for a few special events that will congratulate and celebrate seniors, yet protect the health and safety of our students, staff and families. We thank you for your input! If you’d prefer to watch Supt. Briggs’ video announcement of the details on this page, click here.

Before sharing all of the virtual graduation details, we think it is important to remind everyone of the significant health crisis caused by this global pandemic. COVID-19 has killed more than 63,746 people in the United States alone, and more than 975 in Ohio. As a result, Pickerington Schools is prohibiting mass gatherings, such as the type that would normally occur with typical graduation exercises, for two reasons:

  • We must obey the Governor’s order prohibiting mass gatherings, which was issued to protect the health and safety of all Ohioans, including our students. To ignore the Governor’s order would, at a minimum, merit public scrutiny and possibly legal action against the district.
  • We cannot adequately deep clean any auditorium or stadium to safely accommodate large groups and eliminate the risk of infection. If someone got infected and died after attending a mass gathering, the district could be held liable. 

Our hearts have been aching with our seniors and their families as Ohio’s stay at home order cancelled prom, spring sports, musical and theatrical performances, club activities and so much more. You have sacrificed for the greater good — the health and safety of your community — in a way no other senior class has in Pickerington Schools’ history. So, we will be working hard to give you a legendary graduation that honors your great sacrifice and selflessness. 

Even though we won’t be able to host traditional commencements, we hope to make the graduation day experience feel as close to “normal” as possible, while following the Ohio Department of Health’s (ODH) guidelines. Please keep in mind that if ODH’s guidelines change again, we may need to adjust graduation plans. 

For each high school, there will be two key elements to the Virtual Graduation:

  • Graduation Walk — held on Saturday, May 23, 2020
    • Times:
      • Pickerington High School Central — begins at 9 a.m. 
      • Pickerington High School North — begins at 2 p.m. 
    • Individual seniors will drive up to a predetermined outdoor area on their high school’s grounds, exit the car, walk in their caps and gowns (while we play “Pomp and Circumstance”) up to a stage, receive their diplomas, get recognized by their principal, and have their picture taken by a professional photographer. 
      • While family members may be present in the vehicle (we ask that family members wear masks in the car, but the senior does not need to wear a mask), only the senior will be allowed to exit the car and walk to the stage area. This procedure will protect the safety of students and staff and keep the procession moving steadily forward. Each senior is allowed one car in the procession.
    • Seniors and their families can decorate their cars and will be applauded along the route as they drive by staff sitting in their vehicles in a nearby parking lot.
    • The Graduation Walk processional, which will show every senior walking on stage, will be live streamed in its entirety on graduation day on PLSD’s Facebook page.
    • There will be tents sent up as alternate hand out locations in case it rains.
    • Principals from both high schools will be sending out specifics, including traffic flow and expectations for the live Graduation Walk, device turn-in and final fee payments and more, very soon.
  • Virtual Graduation Program
    • At 8 p.m. on May 23, the recording of the commencement program for each high school will be published on YouTube. Links will be sent out and the videos will be free to view as many times as you wish. The live stream Graduation Walk footage from earlier in the day will not be included as it will already be archived and available for viewing on Facebook.
    • The Virtual Graduation programs will include keynote speakers, class speakers, Top 10 salutations, and individual senior recognitions.

It certainly will be an unforgettable day for seniors! But wait — there’s still more that we will be doing to honor the Class of 2020 over the next few weeks, with the community’s help, leading up to graduation day:

  • May 11-17 — Senior Door Decorating Contest 
    • Decorate your front door as a tribute to your Class of 2020 senior and you could win gift cards donated by local businesses. Post pictures of your door on social media, tag @PLSD and you may be selected by our board of education as a contest winner. There will be at least one winner from each high school.
  • May 18-24 — “Seniors Rock Chalk Walk”
    • Draw sidewalk chalk art to honor a senior and/or write motivational messages to your neighbors during this challenging time. Let’s uplift seniors and each other! 
    • Chalk your sidewalk masterpiece in the neighborhood where you live, post pictures, tag @PLSD and you could be selected by Superintendent Briggs as a Chalk Walk winner. Multiple winners will receive gift cards donated by local businesses.
    • We will also provide a map of an area through the heart of Pickerington designated as “The Chalk Walk.” People will be able to walk (with social distancing, of course) or drive along the route to view the unique art collection. 
  • “Light Up the Stadium for Seniors” Parade of Cars
    • Another  “Light Up the Stadium” event will be held on May 20, 2020, at 8:20 p.m. (20:20 military time). Seniors, their friends and family can decorate their cars, drive by and honk as the stadium lights remain lit for 20 minutes to honor the Class of 2020. Some of you told us you were disappointed that you missed the April 20 event, so this is the chance you’ve been waiting for!
  • A HUGE Senior Surprise is coming!
    • If we told you what it is, it wouldn’t be a surprise, right?

More detailed information about these extra celebrations will be sent soon from district leaders.

We realize this is not the graduation that any of us could possibly have anticipated at the beginning of the school year. But, we are trying to make your last week of high school and your big day as spectacular and memorable for you and your family as you had hoped it would be. 

We greatly appreciate your understanding, patience and support as we worked through this challenging process together, and I look forward to seeing each of you walk across the stage to mark this important bridge between the end to your high school career and a new, exciting beginning to the rest of your life.

Please stay safe, healthy and forever #PLSDProud.

Sincerely,

Dr. Chris Briggs                         Lori Sanders
Superintendent                          Board President