By Conrad Dudderar
Senior Staff Writer
Despite a recent jump in COVID-19 cases, Yukon Public Schools still plans to present an in-person graduation ceremony next week.
The live event to celebrate the Yukon High School Class of 2020 is set Saturday, July 18 at Miller Stadium, 1777 S Yukon Parkway.
The program is due to begin at 10 a.m., but the ceremony will not be open to the public and admittance will be restricted.
Citing the recent increase in positive COVID-19 cases, YPS Superintendent Dr. Jason Simeroth warned this week that the plug could be pulled on next Saturday’s celebratory event.
“If something catastrophic (like a large spike in cases) happens and all gatherings are banned, then we will cancel that as well,” Simeroth said at Tuesday night’s YPS Board of Education meeting. “We hope that won’t happen.”
Plans call for the YHS graduation program to follow social distancing guidelines with students staying at least six feet apart and a limited audience watching from the stands.
“The parents and students will be getting the information on the health and safety requirements,” Simeroth reported this week.
Attendees will be encouraged – but not required – to wear face masks. Everyone who attends is advised to wear sunscreen, bring sunglasses and hydrate.
Each YHS graduate will receive six numbered guest tickets to distribute to six guests of their choice.
“There are crowd restrictions and other things required for you to be part of that ceremony on the 18th,” Simeroth advised YPS board patrons.
The plan is for YHS graduation ceremony to be livestreamed via the YPS Facebook page.
CHANGE OF PLANS
YHS graduates wishing to participate in the July 18th ceremony must attend a practice at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, July 16 in the auxiliary gym when they receive their guest tickets.
Senior Sunset and Project Graduation-sponsored festivities will follow the graduation practice.
YHS’ traditional commencement that was set Tuesday, May 19 at the State Fair Arena in Oklahoma City was postponed due to the COVID-19 shutdown.
Social distancing regulations and crowd restrictions prompted by the virus forced all large gatherings to be canceled or postponed.
Gov. Stitt’s multi-phase reopening plan allowed YPS officials to plan next Saturday’s YHS graduation ceremony in Yukon.
Oklahoma’s 2019-20 school year ended prematurely on May 8 due to the public health emergency.
YHS did present a “virtual” commencement on the night of May 19 that was shown on the YPS Facebook page.
YHS Principal Melissa Barlow has described the “outstanding” YHS Class of 2020 as “one of the kindest, most caring group of kids that I have been around.”
“As a whole, they have always focused on giving back to their fellow students and the community, she said. “They put others before themselves, which is evidenced by the many charitable contributions and service to their community.”
Valedictorians of the YHS Class of 2020 are:
Colton DeKinder, Liana Feronti, Presli Findley, Cole Fredrick, Halle Funkhouser, Lois Garner, Nickolas Hennigh, Steven Howell, Hannah Kurtz, Kohl Kimmel, Tristan LaRose, Mackenzie Moon, Tayah Morrison, Justin Ogle, Justin Ogletree, Mason O’Hara, Payton Sanderson, Caleb Seright, Kaitlyn Tess, Emma Thompson, Minh Tran, and Mason Wrather.
YHS Class of 2020 officers are: President Kole Frederick, Vice President Tayah Morrison, Secretary Peyton Novosad, and Treasurer Blake Gerber.