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MMSD high schools planning in-person graduation ceremonies

MMSD high schools planning in-person graduation ceremonies

Madison School District referendums (copy)

After a televised virtual celebration last year, the Madison Metropolitan School District Class of 2021 will be able to graduate with in-person ceremonies.

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As nearly 1,000 Madison Metropolitan School District seniors return to in-person school this week, their schools are sharing plans for in-person graduation ceremonies later this year.

MMSD’s high schools announced to families this week that they are planning for in-person ceremonies in June, a year after the Class of 2020 was celebrated via a special television program just months into the COVID-19 pandemic.

“High school graduation is one of the most memorable rites of passage for seniors and a significant goal for all students,” MMSD co-chief of secondary schools Mike Hernandez wrote in an email. “We recognize the class of 2021 has overcome tremendous challenges throughout this pandemic, as they have had to adapt to new ways of learning.

“The MMSD community is proud of each and every one of them, and we are committed to providing this year's class of seniors a safe opportunity to celebrate the end of an era with friends and family, while appropriately recognizing past accomplishments and looking forward to future ones.”

While the traditional Kohl Center ceremony is still not an option as the COVID-19 pandemic continues, the four comprehensive high schools will hold outdoor ceremonies at school athletic stadiums with Capital and Shabazz holding June 8 ceremonies at the Monona Terrace.

The East and West high schools ceremonies will be on Friday, June 11, at Mansfield Stadium and Breese Stevens Field, respectively. La Follette and Memorial will hold their events on Saturday, June 12, at Lussier Stadium and Mansfield, respectively.

Each school is planning to separate the class into multiple ceremonies to allow social distancing among the students and their guests, with each student allowed up to four, according to initial communications. The number of ceremonies will vary by school — two each for La Follette and East, three for Memorial and four for West — as well as how they’ll break up their senior groups.

[Pomp and strange circumstance: MMSD Class of 2020 laments lost traditions, looks ahead amid COVID-19]

The latest emergency order from Public Health Madison & Dane County does not put a limit on the number of people who can gather for an outdoor event, but requires that numbers are limited "to ensure individuals who are not members of the same household" can maintain six feet of physical distance.

Memorial has set its times, with ceremonies at 10 a.m., 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. La Follette will hold hourlong ceremonies at 12:30 and 2:30 p.m., while the two other schools said times will be announced later.

Each school cautioned that things could change between now and June, with more details to come as they are worked out.

Share your opinion on this topic by sending a letter to the editor to tctvoice@madison.com. Include your full name, hometown and phone number. Your name and town will be published. The phone number is for verification purposes only. Please keep your letter to 250 words or less.

Scott Girard is the local k-12 education reporter at the Cap Times. A Madison native, he joined the paper in 2019 after working for six years for Unified Newspaper Group. Follow him on Twitter @sgirard9.

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