JEROME, Idaho — The high school class of 2020 missed out on many major milestones as the pandemic hit the U.S.
Now, more than a year into the pandemic, school districts are working to figure out how to celebrate graduation in a safe and responsible way again.
Last year, the class of 2020 got creative with their graduate celebrations — virtual celebrations and commencement "walks" done via their car. The traditional sound of Pomp and Circumstance as eager high school seniors walked across the gymnasium floor was not an option.
Instead, many schools had students decorate their cars and receive their diplomas while remaining socially distant.
“It was a different year," said Jerome High School Principal Nathan Tracy. “We are hoping to come back to a traditional graduation from here on out, but we will see.”
COVID-19 guidelines are still prevalent in everyday life, so the plans to safely celebrate the milestone of finishing high school are in the works across Southern Idaho. At the Jerome School district, school officials said this year’s plan for a safe graduation was really developed by the parents of the highs school seniors.
“It will look like a traditional graduation, just outside on the football field,” said Tracy.
Jerome decided to move the entire celebration to the football field, instead of their usual location inside of the gymnasium. They said the goal is to get as many people to the graduation as possible, and still keep it safe. Moving things to the football field will allow each student to have about six tickets for family and friends.
“In the beginning, I definitely thought we would have more restrictions because of covid,” said Jerome High School senior Jillian Young. “But it seems like our graduation is going to be pretty traditional as of now.”
“I think that it will be fun and new, I’m looking forward to it. I think it will be a good change.
The school district will also be keeping the graduation parade before the ceremony, and the ceremony will also be broadcasted both live online and over the radio.
According to the Idaho State Department of Education, the Jerome Joint School District has seen a decrease in the number of students graduating over the last few years. In 2018, the 4-year graduation rate was 77.5% and in 2019 it went down to 72.6%.
The number of students enrolled each year has been increasing. In 2019 there were 4,023 students enrolled and in 2020 there were 4,137.
For more information on Jerome High School's graduation plan, follow this link.