Ludington Area Schools sought all sorts of solutions to have a traditional graduation ceremony, Superintendent Jason Kennedy told the Board of Education Monday during its regular meeting hosted via video-conferencing.
“It is important to recognize our hearts are broken,” Kennedy said to board Monday. “We can empathize with the seniors and with their parents, it is a tough time when we are normally celebrating and recognizing the accomplishments of our seniors.”
The solution, though, wound up being a drive-through ceremony on June 6 with a rainout date being June 13, the school announced Tuesday morning. According to a press release, graduation will start with a parade at 2 p.m., June 6, at Stearns Park Beach through downtown Ludington and end with a ceremony and diploma distribution in the Ludington High School parking lot.
The district weighed several options, Kennedy said Monday, including at hosting the event at Oriole Field.
“We looked at every single section of the bleachers. It is a limited number of people that can fit in those bleachers,” he said. “We did this for both the home and away bleachers, the student-section bleachers (and) we even accepted (using) space on the track to be able to add chairs and then accounted for all of the graduates, the board of education and the staff.
“When you do that, you get to a total seat count of 280 with 146 graduates and the staff and administration and board of education down on the field. We would really have to limit of tickets to less two per graduate in order to make that happen.”
Kennedy recognized the district didn’t feel it could do it, but it still wanted to study the possibility. He also checked with the district’s attorney to get clarification on whether it was possible in light of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s executive orders. And the attorney recommended not to do it because it was not in line with the executive orders.
Kennedy said the district then had work to develop continuity of options for graduation.
The district looked at three options. One included a virtual option, and another was postponing until much later in the summer or even in 2021 in a formal ceremony. The district’s attorney, Kennedy said, gave advice that the district should not plan for a formal ceremony prior to winter break of the 2020-21 school year.
The district settled on the parade option.
The district also sought out the opinion of the graduating seniors in making its decision, too.
“The results of the survey have come in,” Kennedy said. “Seventy percent of the students liked option one, where thy would do some type of drive through ceremony and have that ceremony take place in early June. The other 30 percent of the responders were almost split down the middle with about 15 percent lets hold a virtue graduation and the other 15 percent saying lets postpone this until a much later date.”