FHS Outlines Graduation Plans for the Upcoming May Ceremony


Rachel Singleton

The impact of COVID-19 leaves students and families longing for somewhat of a normal graduation to end off the abnormal school year.

With graduation less than a month away, the much-anticipated ceremony where seniors get their wings is right around the corner. Last school year, the class of 2020 graduated in individual ceremonies spread over the course of four days. In light of this and the continuance of the pandemic, seniors and their families await anxiously for what is in store for their graduation ceremony.
The graduation ceremony will be held on May 26 on the Falcon Field at FHS. There will be three separate ceremonies at 9 a.m., 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. and will follow the traditional graduation format. Each ceremony may host up to 100 graduates. Additionally, students will be able to select their graduation time and bring up to 10 to 12 guests per graduate. The ceremony will also be live-streamed for guests who can not attend the ceremony. Mitigation procedures and COVID-19 protocols will be put in place in order to ensure the safety of attendees.
Graduation discussion began in the fall among the senior and junior class Student Council Association (SCA) representatives in order to answer the question of what students want for the ceremony. After brainstorming, they determined that the two main priorities for graduation were that it be on the Falcon Field at FHS and that there not be a tight limit on the guests each student could have.
As graduation planning continued, the administration and the SCA kept in communication with the central office to discuss the ceremony and worked with the graduation guidelines and restrictions the governor laid out. They also looked into other options available, including holding graduation at Jiffy Lube Live in Bristow where Kettle Run High School and Liberty High School will be holding their graduation ceremonies. However, they decided against graduating at Jiffy Lube due to administrators’, students’ and parents’ negative past experiences with ceremonies at that venue.
According to Kelican, they received many complaints the year that they held graduation at Jiffy Lube. Parents and students disliked the extra travel time and distance when the Falcon Field was more convenient. Additionally, they felt as if they were being corralled around, and Jiffy Lube lacked the personal touch that the Falcon Field offered.
“It’s difficult when you try to compare schools because everything is a little different with size and numbers and arrangements,” said Kelican. “It is difficult to get all of our staff, all of our students, down to [Jiffy Lube], set up, get them in, get out.”
The SCA officers received all the information gathered about their options and the guidelines they would have to follow. The officers were aware that graduation spread over three slots would mean they would not graduate with their entire class, and that it would mean an extra-long day for administration and faculty. The students were also informed that they could have group graduation with the entire class, but this would limit the guests to about three to four per graduate. They agreed that this was unacceptable, despite their desire for regular graduation.
The school chose not to survey the entire senior class about the decision because of the personal experience the school has that allows them to know what works and what doesn’t. Additionally, Kelican stated that they had talked to a lot of people about what was wanted for graduation throughout the year, and worked with the SCA officers to make the final decision. “That’s the group of folks that the senior class elected to be their voice and to speak. I know they have communicated with a lot of their classmates. I think that’s indicative of the amount of information that I’ve gotten back,” said Kelican.
The administration later consulted the senior class about the graduation plans at a virtual and in-person meeting with the seniors in the auditorium. “We went over all of these details with them. Multiple times through that I asked, ‘Does anybody have questions, concerns, comments?’” said Kelican. “Even for the next two weeks, we never got anything.”
A large part of the administration and SCA’s decision was based on providing students with a personal, memorable graduation. “Think of a freshman going off to college, and you walk into a dorm that’s totally empty and sterile. And that feeling that you get of your bed being plain, you don’t know your roommate, totally empty nothing on the wall,” said Green. “And then you walk into your dorm room that has the comfy comforter or the LED lights, refrigerator full of your favorite snacks and a roommate that you know. Well, compare those two graduations. What graduation would you rather attend?”
Kelican stated that he and the administration and SCA knew they weren’t going to please everyone, but they made the decision in the best interest of the students. Story added that the students are the top priority, saying, “We have given a lot. We love this school, and we want the best for, not us, but for who’s coming through to continue that tradition.”
Some details related to graduation and senior events have not been announced yet because they wanted them to be a surprise according to Kelican and Story. “We want some of this stuff to be, ‘Oh, well look at what they did for us. This is great,’” said Story. “We have to put everything in place first to make sure that we have done what we need to do for them to have a successful effect.”
Kelican applauds the SCA for all the hard work they have put in this year towards planning graduation and pulling together the school year and all its events in general. “I think some people think that they don’t really do anything or haven’t done anything. But the reality is if you look at the list of things they’ve accomplished this year, it’s amazing with what this small group of people did,” said Kelican.
Kelican, Green and Story said they are open to answer any questions or concerns about the plans for graduation. “If anybody has concerns or questions or comments, come see us, we’ll be happy to discuss that. We’ll give our reasons and what the facts are,” said Kelican.
Story advised against getting caught up in circulating rumors as the school continues to release information about graduation and events for the seniors. “If they want the correct information and they have questions come to the source… Information is coming out as we can get it out,” said Story. “This month is going to be a rush. So be ready and be checking your emails.”