The COVID-19 pandemic has shuttered public schools for the rest of this academic year since mid-March, thus creating the need for many changes to be made to traditional area graduation ceremonies.

The first Oceana County school to celebrate their graduates is Walkerville High School, which plans to host their graduation this Friday, May 22 at 6 p.m. in their school parking lot, 145 E. Lathrop St. in Walkerville.

Principal Joseph Conkle has provided two documents detailing the format and guidelines set out by the school for the ceremony.

“We understand the consequences that this situation has caused, but we are attempting to maintain the best possible traditional graduation given the circumstances,” the guidelines document states. “We know that this is not ideal nor will it be perfect, but we do believe our seniors deserve to have the best that we can give them within the law. Thank you in advance for your cooperation and we look forward to celebrating this amazing accomplishment for these very special young men and women.”

Walkerville has a graduating class of nine seniors this year, with Haley Adams as Valedictorian, and Shane Achterhof as Salutatorian. Their class quote is “You can’t climb the ladder of success with your hands in

your pockets,” from Arnold Schwarzenegger. Their class flower is the Dahlia, class colors are baby blue and lilac, and their class song is “Hey Look Ma, I Made It” by Panic! At The Disco.

Due to the unique nature of this year’s graduation, Conkle provided certain guidelines that must be abided by in order to safely conduct graduation this Friday. He added that they are currently working on these guidelines, and there could be some changes as they finalize their plains.

For spectators planning to attend the graduation, they must remain in their vehicle, and should only be in the presence of their immediate family. There will be an orderly dismissal once the graduates have left, and no one can pull back around to the area after leaving.

Hart is currently planning to host its graduation on its football field Saturday, June 13 at 11 a.m., and Hesperia has slated theirs tentatively for Thursday, July 16. Pentwater and Shelby have yet to announce dates for their ceremonies.