MONTAGUE – In the past, high school graduation for many schools was a large public gathering.
People would pack themselves into large athletic arenas, auditoriums or school gymnasiums to honor the local graduates. At Montague High School the tradition typically had been a large celebration held out on the football field – the Townsend Athletic Complex.
But with COVID-19, things have now changed. Under the current conditions, mass gatherings larger than 10 people are no longer allowed or are frowned upon by the state.
Montague High School’s scheduled graduation would have been May 29. A makeup date has yet to be rescheduled, but that isn’t stopping the school from celebrating the accomplishment of this year’s seniors.
The school district will be having a special ceremony on Friday, June 5. Superintendent Jeffrey Johnson, Montague Area Public Schools (MAPS), made sure to emphasize that this ceremony does not take the place of the traditional graduation.
As more things get pushed back later into the summer, the chances of having all the seniors present for a future ceremony becomes less likely. Next Friday’s special ceremony is meant to serve as an addition to the high school graduation, but also recognizes the students who might be leaving for the military or out of state for school.
“It’s actually an extra above and beyond in how we celebrate it (graduation). We want to be able to celebrate our seniors close to a graduation type date. We still plan to have graduation down the road outside in a more traditional format, outside on the football field,” said Johnson.
Health and safety are of course a top priority for the Montague Area Public Schools (MAPS). The district worked with the City of Montague Police Department, the Muskegon County Sheriff’s Department and Public Health Muskegon County to come up with a plan that would protect the students and the staff.
“So, we are working with our local law enforcement, county sheriff and the health department to put something together where we can safely do it in the high school parking lot,” Johnson said.
The senior students will park their cars at the NBC Middle School parking lot, which serves as a staging area. From there, they will proceed into the high school parking lot, where they have been given a designated parking spot. During the ceremony the students will remain in their vehicles until they are called to receive their diploma and congratulations from the high school staff that are present.
The high school principal, Troy Moran, school board president Amanda Unger and Johnson will be present to share a few words of encouragement to the students.
Johnson said attendance to the event is extremely limited. However, it is being broadcast on the school’s Facebook page and on the radio station 98.9 WAXT.
“We are only allowing one car per graduate; all others can watch Facebook Live or listen through the radio station. The only admittance we are having are those that are the graduates themselves, [and] are the staff that are there to prepare and make sure it runs smoothly.”
Afterwards, the Montague Police Department will lead the students in a procession through the city.
To watch the graduation visit: https://www.facebook.com/mapsk12/