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Schools in Fairmont area form graduation plans

GRANADA — The graduating classes of 2020 have faced a unique challenge to the latter portion of their school year. And because of coronavirus guidelines, many schools have had to change graduation plans more than once.

Granada-Huntley-East Chain, Truman High School, Martin County West and Martin Luther High School will be implementing their plans over the next couple of weeks.

“We had initially planned to have a ceremony on the football field and be socially distanced,” said GHEC Assistant Principal Taylor Topinka. “We have 20 graduates, so we figured we could put together a good plan for that.

“When the new [state] guidance was released, we switched to a parking lot drive-in ceremony. So we have that scheduled for 6:30 p.m. May 29. We stuck to our initial scheduled time on the calendar; we just ended up moving the time up a half-hour because we’re going to do a little parade through the community afterward.”

Topinka said seniors and their families are asked to limit themselves to two vehicles.

“We’ve got a plan to block off parts of our parking lot so we can keep six feet between cars, so that way participants can have their windows down and be more involved with the ceremony while still maintaining that social distancing,” he said.

“We’ve also reached out to KBEW, and they’re going to broadcast the ceremony live. So if the family or participants still feel like they would like to have their windows up, they can still be present at the ceremony and listen on the radio. Or if they’re not able to attend, they can listen on the radio as well.

“We’re also still planning to have our speakers speak live,” he noted.

Topinka said the school is working out the details for diploma distribution, with plans to give out diplomas, scholarships and other awards in a Ziplock bag during the ceremony.

“Then after the ceremony is done, we’ll have the seniors form a line, and we have the Granada Fire Department ready to lead us in a parade that will go to Huntley and back to Granada, and then conclude in East Chain.”

Topinka noted that students were recently able to have a picture taken crossing the stage in their caps and gowns.

Meanwhile, the Truman High School graduation ceremony is set for Friday, according to business manager Eva Sonnabend.

“There will be a parade lineup at 6 p.m. and they’ll start up on the north side of Truman, drive through the streets in town, and then they’ll end up in the parking lot for commencement, which will be about 7 p.m. or right after the parade,” she said. “The cars are going to file into the parking lot for commencement directly from the parade. No one is to be out of their vehicles unless they’re speaking, or at the time when diplomas are being awarded.

“Parents and students, one family at a time, will step out of the car and the parents will hand their graduates their diploma. They don’t have to get out if they’re not comfortable with it.”

A newsletter publication to Martin County West seniors from Principal David Traetow states that commencement will take place 2 p.m. May 31. The ceremony will be broadcast on Extreme Country 105.7, with a live video stream available through the Explore Okoboji website, and there will be a link on the school’s website if it is allowed.

The event will be a combination of a virtual ceremony, including speeches and music; a virtual walk across the stage (previously recorded); and diploma distribution in the parking lot. Each graduate and any household members with the graduate must be inside one vehicle, which must be a typical family-sized vehicle. The graduate will be seated in the front passenger seat. There will be parking available in the west parking lot for a second household vehicle, which will not be able to participate in the diploma distribution.

Principal Paul Steinhaus at Martin Luther High School in Northrop said the school’s ceremony will be held outside at 2 p.m. Sunday.

“We’re going to have a ceremony where everybody basically stays in their cars, and the graduates will be seated in lawn chairs,” he said. “We have a little bit of a stage, so we’re actually going to do a ceremony where the kids come up to the stage and grab their diplomas. It’s almost an in-person thing, unless it rains and then we’ll have to figure out what we’re doing.”

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