WRHS Graduation Parade

Wood River High School celebrated its graduating seniors with a parade on May 21.

Wood River High School graduating seniors will walk across the stage to receive their diplomas on Saturday, a month later than originally planned.

This year’s graduation ceremony will differ a bit from ceremonies in years past. It will be held outside, on Homer Field. Guests will be spaced out on blankets and in lawn chairs to allow for social distancing, and commemorative masks will be handed out to the graduates.

But like other years, the graduates will listen to speakers. They’ll walk across the stage as their families watch. And at the end of the ceremony, spaced out on the track around the field, they’ll move their tassels to the other side of their caps and throw them in the air.

“We’re keeping it as traditional as possible other than the location,” Principal John Pearce said.

Before COVID-19 hit the Wood River Valley, the high school graduation ceremony was scheduled to take place May 22. A graduation task force formed after the virus closed Blaine County schools sent out a survey to students and parents to gauge how the class of 2020 wanted to celebrate their graduation in light of coronavirus; about 80 percent of responding seniors said they wanted to walk across the stage, Pearce said.

But the timeline of Idaho’s staged reopening meant that the ceremony couldn’t take place May 22 without violating state safety guidelines. Gatherings of 50 or more people weren’t recommended until stage four, which began June 13. On May 22, the state was still in stage two, which only permitted gatherings of up to 10 people.

Each of the 212 graduates can bring four guests to the ceremony, Pearce said. The clusters of four guests will be spaced out across the field to allow social distancing between families. The graduates will be spaced out, too, he said, with stickers marking the appropriate spot for each student to sit.

So far, 165 seniors have RSVPed to say they’ll attend the ceremony, Pearce said, though he expects that more may show up Saturday.

The ceremony will begin at 10:30 a.m. Students and families are asked to arrive by 10 a.m.

The Sun Valley Community School is also holding its graduation ceremony on Saturday. Like Wood River’s ceremony, the Community School ceremony will take place with social distancing protocol in place, school spokeswoman Anneliese Turck said. The ceremony will start at 1:30 p.m. at Trail Creek Cabin in Sun Valley.

Email the writer: gkauffman@mtexpress.com

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