Elizabeth City-Pasquotank school officials have figured out a way to bring graduating seniors at both county high schools “together” for commencement ceremonies without putting anyone’s health at risk.
ECPPS officials announced “hybrid” graduation ceremony plans for both Pasquotank County High School and Northeastern High School on Friday that factor in the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
According to those plans, graduating seniors will have an opportunity the first week of June to receive their cap and gown at their school in front of five family members and friends. The school will record a video of each diploma presentation. Those videos will then be compiled into one longer video that will be shown — complete with music and speeches — the evening of each school’s scheduled commencement.
In the case of Pasquotank High, the video of diploma presentations will be shown June 12. For Northeastern, the showing will be June 13.
Each school’s presentation will be slightly different.
Pasquotank plans to host a drive-up event on its campus. Students, with social distancing rules in effect, will be allowed to watch the presentation on a projection screen outside the school.
At Northeastern, the compilation video will be livestreamed the evening of June 13. Afterward, NHS students will be invited to drive through the parking lot for a celebratory parade. The event will conclude with the traditional turning of the tassels.
ECPPS Board of Education Chairman Denauvo Robinson said Friday that much care and consideration went into planning the two celebrations.
“Safety has always been, and will continue to be, at the forefront of all of the events planned for our families as we close out the 2019-2020 school year,” Robinson said.
Robinson also congratulated this year’s seniors on behalf of the school board.
“Job well done,” Robinson said.
Rhonda James-Davis, who heads human resources and student support services for ECPPS, said principals and their teams have worked closely with the district administration to plan both graduations and end-of-year events. ECPPS schools have been closed to in-class instruction since March 16, when Gov. Roy Cooper ordered them shuttered for two weeks in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Cooper later ordered schools closed for the remainder of the school year.
The graduation ceremonies planned for June 12 and 13 will provide an opportunity to celebrate students in the best and safest way possible, James-Davis said.
ECPPS Superintendent Catherine Edmonds said all graduation plans have been reviewed and approved by the local health department. She thanked everyone for their patience and understanding.
Pasquotank County High School Principal Juvanda Crutch, in a video prepared for the the school district’s website, depicted the challenge of planning for graduation this year — dramatically drawing red x-marks across the front of a series of draft plans before finally placing a green check-mark on the front of one dubbed, “Graduation Plan #10.”
Northeastern High School Principal Angela Cobb said the staff listened to students and planned events accordingly.
“Graduation is not going to be traditional this year,” Cobb said in a message to seniors. “It is going to be extra special — just like you.”
ECPPS planned to livestream a video at 7 p.m. Friday and the ECPPS Facebook page announcing the high school graduation plans. This week the district will post a schedule of graduation activities and all end-of-year events on the district’s website, www.ecpps.k12.nc.us.
In addition to graduation, Pasquotank High School will observe Senior Week June 1-5. On June 1 seniors are invited to submit videos of their decorated mask and cap.
For June 2, Pasquotank High seniors will submit “transformation” videos that show them in everyday attire and then in a prom outfit, Pasquotank High attire or other special outfit — transforming them “from everyday to wonderful.”
June 3 will be Black Out Day. Seniors will be invited to submit pictures of themselves wearing all black.
ECPPS middle and elementary schools will also be announcing their own end-of-year events this week.