Grant Union has made several adjustments to its planned graduation ceremony May 30 after Grant Union Principal Ryan Gerry had a chance to speak with graduates’ parents.
Each graduate will now be able to have two vehicles for family members, and a system will be in place to ensure a graduate’s family will be able to see them receive their diploma.
During a Grant School District board meeting May 20, Marissa Williams, mother of graduating senior Taylor Allen, said she appreciated the work the staff has done to ensure recognition for the seniors, but she and other parents had concerns about the plans. She said 20 parents contacted her.
“I understand we have a limited amount of time to make changes, and there is a process of approval, but I believe our family and students deserve up to the last minute to get the most out of this experience as possible,” Williams said.
Williams shared three major concerns: being able to see their graduate receive their diploma in the drive-in setting, possible parking disputes and split families being allowed only one vehicle.
Williams said there will be parents who may not be able to see their graduate, and with emotions running high, everyone will be vying for front-row parking spots, which could cause issues prior to the ceremony.
Williams said there are also split families who aren’t able to be in the same room, but families are being asked to be in the same vehicle.
“Myself, along with a group of parents, have spent hours brainstorming possible plans that would be safe and help alleviate emotional clashes in the parking lot while meeting (the Oregon Department of Education’s) guidelines,” Williams said.
Gerry spoke with Williams and other concerned parents Thursday before announcing the changes.
He said there was already a plan in place for parking. The Grant Union parking lot will be barricaded on May 28. On graduation day, there will be one entrance, and staff will be checking off the list of graduates.
“They will essentially have two valet people that will be parking cars so it won’t be people vying for the front position,” Gerry said. “We will have to work with that a little bit because smaller cars will have to go to the front and bigger cars will have to go to the back.”
Gerry said the current plan was carefully crafted with the guidelines from the ODE and meetings with the Grant County Emergency Operations Center.
He said, although it won’t be a typical graduation, the school is trying to make it is normal as possible with valedictorian, salutatorian and commencement speeches as well as recognizing seniors for their accomplishments.
“Instead of just having it where you show up, get your picture taken with your diploma and walk out, we’re trying to keep aspects of a ceremony,” Gerry said.
Grant Union High School’s graduation ceremony will be at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 30.