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El Paso County school districts prepare for in-person grad ceremonies

Posted at 6:20 PM, May 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-15 20:26:24-04

EL PASO COUNTY — As of Thursday, high schools in El Paso County will be allowed to have in-person graduation ceremonies.

A variance request was approved by the state health department with, of course, some guidelines to keep people safe. They certainly won't be normal graduation ceremonies, but they will give students the chance to reunite with their classmates and celebrate their achievements after months of learning from home. While it will be different officials say it's for everyone's safety.

Katelin Travis said, "We were very excited. We were a little bummed when we were told that family couldn't attend."

The Falcon High School senior has some mixed emotions.

"We understand that safety's the number one priority and we're just excited to have an in-person ceremony." Travis shared that her ceremony will take place on June 27 at UCHealth Park.

Joshua Sulentic, who is also graduating from Falcon High School, said, "I'm just glad that my peers who've been really looking forward to this, and this is going to be the big step in their life, that they're not going to have that completely taken away from them."

When we spoke with Sulentic on Friday he wasn't sure if he was going to attend his ceremony.

"I'm not a big fan of all of the social distancing and all those rules so I just know that when we go there's going to be so many rules in place."

He's right. Allison Cortez, director for communication for Academy District 20, said, "They're going to be spaced on the field six feet apart. We're going to have masks for them to wear."

For D20 - ceremonies will start June 20th, be held at the D20 stadium, and will be live-streamed.

Cortez said, "There will be no walking across the stage."

We're told that for all El Paso County ceremonies only students and limited staff will be allowed to attend. For District 11 - ceremonies will take place from June 22-26 at Garry Berry Stadium and will also be live-streamed.

Devra Ashby, public information officer for District 11, said, "We will have to follow the six-foot social distancing so we will be having our graduates sit up in the stands...we will also be asking that each of them come with a mask."

Students should also be prepared to do a health screening and complete a behavioral contract stating they'll comply with the rules.

Travis said, "This is something that we've worked for for 12 years and even if it's not the ceremony that we expected it's the ceremony that we can have safely right now."

School officials want you to stay up-to-date on graduation plans by visiting your individual school's website or through emails from your district. We're told if there is a spike in coronavirus cases in-person ceremonies could be canceled and will be done virtually.