By Conrad Dudderar
Senior Staff Writer
With the partial “re-opening” of Oklahoma businesses and venues in coming weeks, Yukon Public Schools tentatively plans to present an in-person graduation ceremony this July.
The last day of the 2019-20 school year is next Friday, May 8 and YPS officials already have announced there will be a “virtual commencement” 11 days later for the Yukon High School Class of 2020.
With social distancing restrictions limiting large gatherings due to COVID-19, Yukon and other school districts were forced to cancel their traditional May graduation ceremonies.
YPS Superintendent Dr. Jason Simeroth recorded a video message for YHS seniors and family members to discuss the possibility of having an “in-person” ceremony for 2020 graduates this summer.
The outdoor event would be 11 a.m. Saturday, July 18 at Miller Stadium, 1777 S Yukon Parkway.
“We are penciling in a tentative date for a graduating ceremony to be held on our high school football field,” Simeroth told students and Yukon school patrons.
“I’m not making a 100% guarantee it will happen. I’m not going to make a promise I can’t keep.”
The tentative plan is for the new YHS grads to be 6 feet apart with a limited number of family members spread out in the audience. Some 550 students are expected to comprise the YHS Class of 2020.
It should be emphasized the July 18th graduation ceremony is not set in stone because of uncertainly related to lingering COVID health concerns.
The summer event would not be presented if the Centers for Disease Control, Oklahoma State Health Department, State Department of Education, and Gov. Stitt still are not allowing even “limited” group gatherings.
“We’re not going to put people in jeopardy and make the situation worse,” Simeroth told YHS students and school district patrons.
Another caveat is that the YHS Miller Stadium field is being replaced. If the new field isn’t ready by July 18, the proposed in-person graduation ceremony would move to the Yukon Middle School football stadium, 801 S. Garth Brooks Blvd.
What is certain is that the virtual YHS commencement ceremony will air Tuesday, May 19 on the YPS Facebook page.
Students are preparing their own virtual slides with pictures, quotes and accomplishments to be included in the presentation.
The virtual program was organized to replace the commencement exercises that had been set that night inside the State Fair Park Arena.
The annual in-person YHS commencement in Oklahoma City is one of the highlights of each school year for graduating seniors, family members, educators, and administrators.
“We feel terrible about it, but one of the things we’ve stressed is the health and well-being of our families and our students,” Simeroth said.
Yukon school personnel, students and families are keeping their fingers crossed that YHS can host the July 18th outdoor graduation ceremony.
“We really want this to happen, but I can’t guarantee that it will happen,” Simeroth advised YHS seniors and family members in his video message. “I just wanted to give you a heads-up so that you could reserve that date.”
If the in-person commencement cannot happen in July, YPS officials will plan something later to honor the 2020 YHS grads.