Baccalaureate services and graduation plans are in the works for Hiawatha seniors, but could have a different look.
Many out of school since the beginning of March, seniors all across the country have missed out on many traditional parts of their last few months of high school, including prom, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. School officials, community members and parents all across the nation are trying to make graduation happen — in some form or another.
That includes in Hiawatha.
Superintendent of Schools Lonnie Moser said discussions have been happening concerning graduation services and just this week he and high school administrators participated in a Zoom conference with parents to get some opinions on what they and students want.
Moser said the general consensus is leaning toward postponing the traditional graduation until such a time that it’s safe to do so and meets the state guidelines. Currently, under the governor’s four-phase reopening plan, mass gatherings of that magnitude won’t be allowed until the “phase-out” period beyond June 15. Phase 3 allows mass gatherings of up to 90 people — and graduation audiences bring in the hundreds.
Moser said school administrators had worked on a plan for a non-traditional graduation to be held that same date, where only students and families would be recognized — flowing through the gym as individual groups, without any audience. Once a student received a diploma, he/she would exit the gym with family so another student and family could proceed. Each would be photographed receiving a diploma, which could have come from a school official, or even a family member, Moser said.
It was either this type of non-traditional service, or postpone. The majority of the senior class parents and students asked for a postponement, however Moser said they have a small window to accomplish this before some students leave for trade schools or military.
He said, for now, the district has opted to postpone the graduation in hopes of having a full traditional service but has not set a date. He said that would happen at Monday night’s School Board meeting.
“We have to follow the state guidelines and if those don’t allow us to have a traditional service, then we do have a back-up plan,” Moser said.
Baccalaureate services — traditionally planned by the Hiawatha Ministerial Alliance — are moving forward on Wednesday, May 13, but in a non-traditional way.
Participating ministers are submitting their presentations, along with music selections to KNZA and these will be broadcast at 7 p.m. on May 13 at 103.9 in an efffort to recognize seniors. It will also be aired later on Rainbow and avalable on YouTube.