OHS graduation, alternative celebration planned — potentially in late June, July

By Roxie Murphy, Staff Writer
Posted 4/22/20

The Gasconade County R-2 Board of Education met Monday night at the Owensville Middle School library and discussed graduation, alternative celebrations and summer school plans.

Board members were …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

E-mail
Password
Log in

OHS graduation, alternative celebration planned — potentially in late June, July

Posted

The Gasconade County R-2 Board of Education met Monday night at the Owensville Middle School library and discussed graduation, alternative celebrations and summer school plans.

Board members were secluded in the library, maintaining social distancing. Guests were directed to watch the meeting on a big screen projecting Zoom in the cafeteria in order to maintain social distancing during the Stay-At-Home order issued because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Owensville High School (OHS) Principal Kris Altemeyer was present to share information he collected from seniors and parents via a survey about a graduation ceremony.

“We sent a survey out to all seniors and their parents,” Altemeyer said. “Of the ones that responded two-thirds of parents and seniors, over 60 percent of those surveyed, are in favor of keeping a traditional graduation ceremony in May.”

Gov. Mike Parson is expected to lift Missouri’s Stay-At-Home order on May 3, however, it is unclear as yet what that reopening will look like and if it will happen in time for graduation ceremonies to commence before the following school year. Seniors are also hoping to include other senior activities in the graduation time frame.

The board agreed that the regularly scheduled May 17 graduation was not going to happen. Superintendent Dr. Chuck Garner proposed two alternative dates for the event.

“The last Sunday in June (28) or the last Sunday in July (26),” Garner said. “Traditional graduation is our first choice.”

The school will do their best to pack senior activities into the week prior to the graduation dates available. Baccalaureate will be held the Wednesday before graduation, awards and scholarship ceremonies will be held the Thursday before graduation, and prom will be held the Friday before graduation — regardless of when graduation will be held.

“The idea is to keep all special activities together before seniors start leaving for the summer or taking vacations,” Altemeyer said.

Garner added that the unknown information is the wildcard in the decision.

“Making a difficult decision with information is one thing, but on this we have no information and need to make a decision,” Garner said. “If the governor says we can hold out door events while practicing social distancing, what does that look like? If indoor, no more than 50 people are allowed. What does that look like?”

Garner said they expect about 130 graduates in the 2020 class.

“The conversation is frustrating without knowing what is allowed,” he added.

If the country is still closed with large gathering banned in the summer months, Garner said they will plan an alternative celebration prior to the 2020-21 school year.

“Possibly a graduation parade,” Garner said.

Senior traditions and events are far from the end of scheduled activities that are being placed on hold. The board also agreed that summer school, originally scheduled to be held May 26 through June 5, will have to be moved.

“The governor’s Stay-At-Home order isn’t scheduled to be lifted until May 3,” Garner said. “We are waiting to see if the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) gives us any guidance on summer school.”

Garner added that initially Parson was letting the schools decide what they wanted to do.

“Now I believe the standard is in crowds of 50 or more you must wear masks and gloves, however schools are supposed to be exempt,” Garner said.

He added that while schools may be exempt, it may not be the best practice to have so many students together in one place.

“Some schools are going to have summer school online, but that may not be an option for us,” Garner said.  “We are unable to provide a quality online summer school for all students. It is up in the air because we don’t know if we are going to be allowed to have students in the building.”

Director Molly Steinbeck asked if they were for sure not going to be able to use the original dates.

“That is correct,” Garner confirmed. “Now we need a four week summer school to recoup time lost.”

Garner said it has not yet been determined if or when summer school classes will commence.

Comments

No comments on this story | Please log in to comment by clicking here
Please log in or register to add your comment