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Ascension Schools announce graduation plans

Staff Reports
Gonzales Weekly Citizen

Dear Ascension Public Schools Families,

Thank you for another successful week of distance learning. I continue to be grateful for the dedication and commitment of our students, teachers, and all those that support learning. We are so fortunate to serve a community that has such a high value for education and high expectations for continued educational services.

GRADUATION CEREMONIES

As promised, this message is primarily to address one of the most important events our district holds each year: commencement ceremonies. Our high school principals and district staff have worked tirelessly to explore various options for celebrating the Class of 2020 in meaningful ways given the constraints in which we currently exist. The Governor's Stay at Home Order through May 15 will not allow us to hold traditional commencement ceremonies as previously scheduled.

However, we anticipate after May 15, that Louisiana could move into Phase I of the White House's guidelines for reopening. These guidelines include "Large Venues (e.g., sporting venues, places of worship) can operate under strict physical distancing protocols." After consulting with state and local officials, we believe we will have an opportunity to allow the Class of 2020 to graduate in their stadiums with appropriate social distancing required during the entire ceremony.

At this time, contingent upon the expiration of Louisiana's Stay at Home Order, we plan to hold the following 2020 Commencement Ceremonies with strict social distancing guidelines after the official closing of schools for the 2019-20 school year:

7 p.m., Wednesday, May 27, 2020:

ST. AMANT HIGH SCHOOL COMMENCEMENT AT THE PIT

7 p.m., Thursday, May 28, 2020:

EAST ASCENSION HIGH SCHOOL COMMENCEMENT AT SPARTAN STADIUM

7 p.m., Friday, May 29, 2020:

DONALDSONVILLE HIGH SCHOOL COMMENCEMENT AT BOUTTE STADIUM

7 p.m., Friday, May 29, 2020:

DUTCHTOWN HIGH SCHOOL COMMENCEMENT AT GRIFFIN FIELD

In order for these ceremonies to adhere to safety guidelines, graduates will be seated six feet apart on the field; stadium capacity will remain at 25%, which means attendee tickets will be limited and strictly enforced; and members of vulnerable populations will be encouraged not to attend. 

EATEL will live stream all four graduations on YouTube so that those who cannot or choose not to attend may still observe the ceremonies. It is important to note that attendance at these ceremonies for graduates is optional. Please also note, if restrictions and guidelines in response to COVID-19 were to prohibit us from holding graduation ceremonies on our campuses, we are looking at other large indoor venues to accommodate these events later in the summer. 

Celebrating the Class of 2020 is a special honor and privilege, as it is each year. It is our highest and proudest moment as a school system as it represents the crowning moment of accomplishment for the work of these dedicated students and our long partnership with these students and their families. We believe we can create a safe environment and remain in complete compliance with social distancing protocols without sacrificing these monumental events for our graduates.

Our high school principals will be communicating their plans to you soon with specificity around items such as guest tickets and practices. Please join me in thanking Principal Marvin Evans, Principal Carli Francois, Principal Traci McCorkcle, and Principal Beth Templet for collaborating with district leaders to create this plan. In the days ahead, they along with their dedicated staff will be working hard to plan and host these events. 

It is our hope that by working together as a community, this may be a positive step towards safely restoring some normalcy while giving the sendoff our graduates so greatly deserve.

Respectfully,

David Alexander

Superintendent

Ascension Public Schools