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“Nationals October 2019

Graduations canceled for AACPS, moving to “Celebration of Members of the Class of 2020”

| May 14, 2020, 03:27 PM

Superintendent George Arlotto today announced the school system’s transition away from traditional graduation exercises for high school seniors to a four-tiered celebration of members of the Class of 2020 that will include a digital graduation ceremony and potentially a cap-and-gown event later this summer.

Liquified Creative Annapolis

The decision was made necessary in light of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, last week’s announcement by State Superintendent Karen Salmon that school buildings would remain closed for the rest of the academic year, and ongoing restrictions that continue to be imposed by Gov. Larry Hogan – even with yesterday’s partial reopening announcement.

“As the father of a high school senior myself, I am fully aware of – and have greatly struggled with – the impact that decisions regarding events such as prom and graduation have on students and their families,” Dr. Arlotto wrote in a letter sent to seniors and their families today. “That is why I waited as long as possible before canceling proms late last month. That is also why we have delayed a decision on our graduation ceremonies, hoping against hope that we could hold them as planned at our schools or at the Live! Event Center at Arundel Mills. Our primary focus has been – and will continue to be – on health and safety.”

While the current circumstances “mean that we simply cannot proceed with graduations as we had planned, I refuse to let the circumstances eradicate our ability to celebrate our awesome seniors,” Dr. Arlotto wrote.

Schools will now honor seniors in the following ways:

  • Senior Salute: Audio tributes about seniors by those who know them best – their teachers and counselors. These will air from May 26 -28 on our radio station, CRAB Radio (104.7 FM), and will be posted on each school’s website.
  • Senior Awards: Each school will be creating an online senior awards event to honor members of the Class of 2020.
  • Digital Commencement Celebration: These recorded events will follow the format of traditional graduations and will be broadcast on AACPS-TV and on AACPS’ YouTube and Livestream channels. These events will feature the pomp and circumstance of traditional graduations with announcements of the names and accompanying photos of all graduating seniors, speeches by graduates, a Board of Education member, and the school principal, as well as the turning of the tassel.
  • Cap and Gown Gala: Tentative events for all high schools in late July in which members of the Class of 2020 can gather together (with appropriate social distancing), put on their caps and gowns, have their names announced, process across the stage, and have their photo taken as they would at a normal graduation ceremony. These events, which would also be broadcast on the AACPS Livestream channel, would be open only to seniors (not families) and would take place only in the event the Governor’s recovery plan is in a phase that allows it and with the approval of the Anne Arundel County Health Officer. A decision on whether to hold these events will be made by July 1, 2020.

If restrictions remain in effect that prevent the Cap and Gown Gala events from occurring, high schools will plan an event for next fall or early winter that will honor their seniors in a different way. Those events may vary from school to school.

“We have had, of course, no control over the circumstances that brought us to this moment. Nothing that has happened, though, can diminish the accomplishments of the members of the Class of 2020,” Dr. Arlotto wrote in his letter. “They are outstanding young leaders who will shape the world in the coming years. The ways we will celebrate them aren’t what we thought they would be in September, but our pride in their accomplishments and the way they carry themselves is every bit as strong.”

AACPS Digital Commencement Celebration Broadcast Schedule

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