Schools plan for in-person graduations

The high school graduating class of 2021 will have ceremonies that are a lot closer to normal.

Districts and charters are announcing their graduation plans for later this month and many are opening their doors to family and friends because cases of the coronavirus have hit their lowest point in seven months in Idaho K-12 schools. Most graduations last year, amid a pandemic, were done remotely or socially distanced.

West Ada chief communication officer Char Jackson said the priority for this year’s commencement was to make it as normal as possible for students while allowing as many guests as they safely could. This means that graduation is being moved to the Ford Idaho Center for the district’s biggest schools, while the smaller schools are holding smaller events.

West Ada also considered splitting the large graduating classes at Rocky Mountain and Meridian in half and having two ceremonies per school, a plan that was met with negative feedback. Jackson said the biggest hurdle that the district found this spring was finding a venue that would hold all of the graduates and their families, this led to a rescheduling of the Meridian and Rocky Mountain ceremonies.

The priorities were the same in Nampa, Director of Communications and Community Relations Kathleen Tuck said.

“We recognize that this is a milestone event in a person’s life and something that allows students and families to celebrate years of effort,” she said.

On Tuesday, Southwest District Health unanimously passed a resolution making it so community members are able to make their own decisions in terms of health restrictions. Ford Idaho Center no longer is putting attendance limits on events.

Central District Health’s policies are not as lenient. On April 29, CDH’s revised guidance asks that everyone wear a face covering inside when social distancing is not possible. Also, any gatherings over 50 people need to be approved by CDH, or the City of Boise if that’s where the gathering is.

In the spring of 2020, school districts scrambled to come up with ideas for graduation while the state was in stage two of Gov. Brad Little’s reopening plan, meaning in-person gatherings were capped at 10 people. Some schools held in-person graduation, defying health guidelines. Some schools held drive-through commencement with graduates staying in cars. Some schools delayed the ceremony until gathering restrictions were eased.

Here’s an alphabetical rundown of graduation plans for Idaho’s largest school districts:

Boise

Boise School District’s commencement will be held at ExtraMile Arena at Boise State University during the last week of May. Each student will be allowed to bring four guests to graduation. All attendees will be required to wear a face covering and everyone will be assigned socially distant seating.

Seats will be assigned via TicketMaster.

All ceremonies will start at 7 p.m.

  • May 24: Borah High
  • May 25: Capital High
  • May 26: Timberline High
  • May 27: Boise High

Graduation for Frank Church High will be on May 26 at 4:30 p.m. at the school.

There will be a livestream of the events available.

Nampa

Nampa School District will be holding its ceremonies at different locations. The school district is encouraging attendees to wear face coverings but they are not required.

This will be the inaugural graduating class for the Treasure Valley Leadership Academy (which started in 2017 with freshmen) and the Nampa Online Virtual Academy (which started in 2020).

Events will be livestreamed for those who cannot attend.

May 19:

  • Treasure Valley Leadership Academy, 11 a.m. at Lakeview Park
  • Nampa Online Virtual Academy, 5 p.m. virtual ceremony, 7 p.m. hat toss ceremony at Park Ridge Field
  • Nampa PREP, 6:30 p.m. at Nampa High Little Theater

May 20:

  • Union High, 7 p.m. at NNU Brandt Center

May 21:

  • Gateways, 10:45 a.m. at Gateways

May 24:

  • Nampa High, 7 p.m. at Ford Idaho Center

May 25:

  • Skyview High, 7 p.m. at Ford Idaho Center

May 26:

  • Columbia High, 7 p.m. at Ford Idaho Center

Pocatello/Chubbuck

In a return to normalcy, graduates of Pocatello/Chubbuck will be celebrated in Idaho State University’s Holt Arena, John O’Connell of the Idaho State Journal reported.

The ceremonies will take place on May 27:

  • Century High: noon
  • Pocatello High: 3 p.m.
  • Highland: 6 p.m.

Face coverings will be required for all attendees and graduates will be allotted four reserved seats for the event.

New Horizon High will have a ceremony at the Portneuf Wellness Complex on May 26 at 6 p.m.

West Ada

The number of guests allowed for each student is being communicated through the schools. Face coverings will be required for all ceremonies and a livestream will be made available for those unable to attend.

Tuesday, June 8 at Centennial Performing Arts Complex

  • Rebound, 4:30 p.m.
  • Virtual School House, 7 p.m.

Wednesday, June 9 at Centennial Performing Arts Complex

  • Eagle Academy, 4:30 p.m.
  • Central Academy, 7 p.m.

Thursday, June 10 at Centennial Performing Arts Complex

  • Meridian Academy, 4:30 p.m.
  • Idaho Fine Arts Academy, 7 p.m.

Friday, June 11 at Ford Idaho Center

  • Meridian High, 2 p.m.
  • Rocky Mountain High, 6 p.m.

Saturday, June 12 at Mountain View High

  • Renaissance High, 10 a.m.

Saturday, June 19 at Ford Idaho Center

  • Eagle High, 11 a.m.
  • Centennial High, 3 p.m.
  • Mountain View High, 7 p.m.
Nik Streng

About Nik Streng

Nik Streng graduated with his bachelors degree in creative writing from Pacific University in Forest Grove, Ore., in 2013 and graduated with his master’s in journalism from the University of Oregon. 

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