We know there have been way more questions than answers as the entire P-16 education system has moved into this new reality of distance learning. And now that we’ve officially heard from our Governor that schools will remain closed through the end of the year, even more questions are surfacing.
So, what about the Class of 2020? What about all of those year-end events for seniors to celebrate the end of their K-12 experience? What about the graduation ceremony itself...the cap, gown, and tassel toss?
Well, here at AWSP, we are proud to say that the show will go on. We never questioned whether or not graduations would happen, but rather how. Face to face or virtual? Ideally, we’d love to see this pandemic disappear in time for traditional graduation ceremonies to take place, but realistically we should all be thinking about how to create a powerful, personal, and engaging virtual graduation ceremony for the Class of 2020.
A few weeks ago, we were approached by the leaders from the national corporate offices of Jostens to begin discussing how to create virtual graduation resources for principals. I have always appreciated the student-centered philosophy at Jostens and this was just another example of their proactive and intentional devotion to school culture and providing hope to our seniors in the Class of 2020.
As a veteran (still recovering) high school principal myself, the graduation ceremony was always one of my favorite moments of the year. I took great pride in making sure we not only recognized both the individual and class accomplishments of our seniors, but truly celebrated their high school experience.
When the Governor announced this week that we would not be returning, you could hear the collective crying and tears of students, staffulty, and parents from across the state at what can easily be described as the sense of loss. Loss of senior moments. Loss of celebrations. Loss of connections and relationships. Loss of closure. We are in mourning, and there is no other way to describe this sense of loss.
I can only handle sadness, depression, and a cup-half-empty mindset for so long before I start to unravel. So, I just don’t let myself stay there mentally for too long. Instead of thinking about what is no longer possible for our seniors, I’m excited to think about what is possible for them. And that is why we are incredibly excited to share some amazing new resources for high school principals and other district leaders at the Jostens Virtual Commencement Center.
From the processional music to speeches, to special guest presentations/speeches (ie. from our Governor, local celebrities, movie stars, etc.), to awards and recognition, to diploma presentations, to tossing caps high in the air, Jostens has created a framework for principals to follow as they lead one of the most memorable graduation ceremonies ever for students, staffulty, and families. Jostens truly has thought of everything in the preparation of their resources, but have left a ton of room for principals to incorporate their own flavor, creativity, and culture.
So, now that a virtual graduation is most likely our reality, what should be your next steps?
Form a Graduation Planning Committee (must include your senior students!)
Check out the Jostens Virtual Commencement Center (use access code Jostens_VCC)
Contact your local Jostens representative for support
Reach out to AWSP for other ideas, resources, etc.
Begin planning an incredible ceremony for the Class of 2020
One side note, Jostens has made all of these resources available and free to all schools whether they are a Jostens school or not. This is not about which company you use for caps, gowns, and class rings, but rather a collective effort to celebrate the Class of 2020.
If you have any questions or need help on where to start, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. Or for a quick overview, watch the 2-minute video below.