Local schools set graduation dates

By Joseph Slacian

Two of the county’s three public school districts have now set dates for their 2020 commencement ceremonies.

Wabash City Schools Superintendent Jason Callahan on May 4 announced Wabash High School’s commencement will take place at 7 p.m. Friday, July 31, at the Honeywell Center’s Ford Theater.

On May 6, MSD of Wabash County Superintendent Mike Keaffaber announced that Northfield and Southwood high schools will have commencement ceremonies on Sunday, July 19. Northfield’s ceremony will be at 2 p.m., while Southwood’s will be at 5 p.m. Both ceremonies are scheduled for the respective school’s gymnasiums.

Manchester Community Schools will have its graduation ceremony the evening of Friday, July 17.
Callahan, in a letter to parents on the district’s Facebook page, wrote, “We want to place an emphasis that this scheduled time and venue is dependent on current and future guidelines placed by the State of Indiana and other local health factors.

“Our purpose in setting the date, time and venue at this time is to provide our families and friends the opportunity to be able to plan their summer schedules accordingly,” he continued. “In the coming weeks, we may need to make adjustments due to social-distancing guidelines, such as the number of allowed guests or the type of venue, but we will make every effort to hold the date.

“If social distancing restrictions demand a different venue, Wabash City Schools will look at other options for this date to include holding graduation at an outdoor venue.”

In speaking with WHS seniors, Callahan wrote, officials understand that they want to have as close to a traditional commencement ceremony as possible.

“The Wabash High School administration and staff feel like this plan best fulfills the desire of our students and provides time to create safe conditions for both our students and our families,” he added.
Keaffaber, in telephone message to MSD patrons, noted that Stage Five of Gov. Eric Holcomb’s Five-Stage Plan to open the state, begins July 4.

“Due to other conflicts and the small window of time, this was the best date, knowing that there might be conflicts,” he said.

“Our hope is that all seniors will be able to participate in this milestone event.”

Protocol information related to the COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing will be announced at a later date, he continued.

“The plan is subject to alternatives if changes are made to State Five of Indiana’s Back on Track Plan,” Keaffaber said. “If something does change and we cannot have graduation in the gymnasiums, the alternative will likely be on the same date, outside or a parade or accomplished virtually.

“We hope nothing changes.”

Manchester High School principal Dr. Jon Lippe announced the commencement date in a letter on the school district’s Facebook page on Friday.

“Although no plan honoring you will be ‘traditional,’ nor is there a perfect plan to accommodate everyone, we knew we wanted to find a way for you all to be together one last time,” he wrote.

School officials, he continued, recognize there will likely be restrictions in place.

“However, our goal is to create a plan that honors our traditions in which you are with your classmates one last time while allowing a restricted number of onsite observers to celebrate with you,” Lippe wrote.

School officials will continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation in Indiana and will make any adjustments to the plan as necessary.

“But be assured that we will make every attempt to have a celebration on that date with Saturday, July 18, being used as a back-up date,” he said.

Posted on 2020 May 12