Information on August 8 PHS Graduation and other events to honor the Class of 2020



Information on August 8 PHS Graduation and other events to honor the Class of 2020

The Prescott Unified School District would like to announce a plan for the graduation for the Class of 2020 after an unpredictable ending of their school career due to the Covid-19 School closures.  We are proud of our graduates and have collaborated with them for the outcome that they have suggested during these uncertain times.

On the regularly scheduled date for graduation, 5/22/2020, the PUSD staff has created a video to honor our Senior Class of 2020.  An email with the link to the video will be shared with parents and students.

PUSD and PHS administrators met with student leaders throughout this tumultuous fourth quarter to discuss a variety of options to properly honor the graduating class of 2020.  The seniors were surveyed two different times with the final survey focusing on options of actual dates with different possible outcomes.  While administration was clear that the safety and welfare of our students and community is non-negotiable, and that certain state and federal parameters were inevitable, over 81% of PHS seniors shared that their preference is to hold out hope that postponing the ceremony may allow for as close to traditional graduation as possible.  This leads us to a planned graduation date of Saturday, August 8, at 10 a.m.  The morning timing is in consideration of our (also hopeful) monsoon season, which traditionally occurs in the afternoon.  

Focusing on the wishes of our Senior Class of 2022, PUSD has landed on this August 8th date with the hope that social distance restrictions will be loosened or finished.  That is our hope.  However, we continue to acknowledge to our students and our Prescott Community, who show up in large numbers, that no one can guarantee that timing.

The following timeline and plan is consistent with the recommendations of the Arizona Department of Education and the Arizona Department of Health Services.  All logistics are subject to change, consistent with our very different and changing world reality.

Friday, August 7

9:00 AM - Graduation Practice - Ruth Street Theater

The Parade of Graduates will take place after the practice.  PHS Seniors will ride buses to PUSD elementary schools in cap and gown to encourage young students and thank their former teachers.  Details and schedule will be shared this summer.

Saturday, August 8

8:30 AM - Stadium Gates Open

9:00 AM - All Graduates stage in Ruth Street Theatre

10:00 AM - Commencement Begins

8/8 Graduation Logistics (based on assumed relaxed social distancing parameters and subject to change based on pandemic parameters)

- During commencement students will process into the stadium with a chosen partner

- Programs will be distributed*

- The PHS band and choir will perform*

- Speeches will be given by student leaders and Grads with Distinction*

- All family and friends will be welcome to attend*

- The name of each graduate will be called and they will walk one at a time across the stage

- The ceremony will conclude with throwing of the caps*

- The entire ceremony can be viewed on livestream

- Grad Night Celebration*- The celebration will take place on the evening of August 8th on the PHS campus and include a dance, games, and raffle of prizes.

*Starred items are not currently allowed under level 1 CDC recommendations.  It is a hope that these restrictions are lifted by 8/8, but by no means guaranteed

(Students will receive their diploma during the yearbook pickup that will take place in June)

Alternate Graduation Ceremony on Saturday, August 8

If restrictions are enacted, PUSD will make adjustments to remain in compliance and keep all attendees safe.

8/8 Possible Logistics with current social distancing parameters:

- 2 tickets provided per graduate.  Only spectators with a ticket will be permitted entry into the stadium

- Students will process into the stadium with a partner while remaining six feet apart

- Students will be given the opportunity to choose their walking partner

- Programs can not be distributed. 

- No live music permitted-recorded only.

- Speeches will be given by student leaders and Grads with Distinction while following social distancing parameters

- The name of each graduate will be called and they will walk one at a time across the stage 

- Students are not permitted to throw their cap at the end of the ceremony.

- Students exit in a single file line six feet apart.

- The entire ceremony can be viewed on livestream.

- Grad Night celebration can not take place. Gift certificates will be raffled and distributed to the graduates by the Grad Night committee.

Process that led to 8/8 for 2020 decision:

An extensive process was undertaken to arrive at our August 8 date. Student and family safety was paramount in all decision making. With this context, this decision was driven by input from our graduating PHS Class of 2020.

·         Our plan complies with guidelines from the AZ Department of Health, AZ Department of Education, and the National Centers for Disease Control.

·         PHS Seniors were surveyed in March for their ideas for graduation and for their date preferences. 

·         PHS and PUSD leaders met multiple times with PHS Senior class leaders for direct input. 

·         Seniors were surveyed a second time with specific options based on current public health directives and Seniors' previous feedback. Over 81% of PHS Seniors chose a date in early August.

·         Our Seniors' hope is that by early August, Arizona will be in Phase 3 of lifting social distancing restrictions, allowing a large group to gather for a traditional PHS Commencement ceremony at PHS's Bill Shepard field. 

·         As a group, Seniors strongly expressed that they prefer an option that "buys time" for a scenario where family and friends can hopefully attend with them, instead of earlier options that definitely limit full family or peer attendance at their graduation.

·         Students expressed strongly that a Grad Nite with a dance is important for them. Our traditional "walk the halls" through their PUSD schools is also important for many.

·         Saturday morning, August 8 is a date that:

o    is well before most universities start Fall classes. The earliest start date for classes that we have found for PHS grads' intended universities is August 20. We also found that August 14 is the earliest students can move into their dorms and participate in campus activities.

o    allows for all PHS staff to be available to assist with and attend graduation.

o    will not interfere with family summer plans to be out of town.

o    allows for weekend travel for attendees, as necessary.

o    allows for use of the PHS parking lot, which will be under construction throughout the summer.

o    PUSD schools are back in session, allowing for our traditional Senior Walk through PUSD schools, with cheers from teachers and younger students.

o    Morning time frame helps avoid common August afternoon monsoon storms.

Other forms recognition for Class of 2020:

·         The PHS football field lights are turned on every night at military time 20:20 for 20 minutes until May 22.

·         On May 22 (graduation day), PUSD will share a celebration video highlighting messages from students, parents, family members, teachers, community members, and administrators.

·         Banners are hung up around town to acknowledge our graduates.

·         "2020 Strong" Yard signs, donated by Danielle Rickert at Sir Speedy and the PUSD Education Foundation, were given to every Senior

·         Facebook "Adopt a Senior" Program 

·         Seniors will be highlighted on Facebook for their accomplishments at PHS and future plans

·         PHS Seniors have been awarded $7.5 million in scholarships!

Private Recognition for Class of 2020:

PUSD is grateful for our extremely supportive community.  Several private groups are offering alternate events during this time to celebrate graduates.  Similar to the many family parties or other celebrations during normal times, PUSD cannot sponsor or affiliate with these offerings.  Private non-PUSD events are certainly a personal or family choice.  While PUSD would love to help advertise or otherwise support such events, once we put our name on these, we become responsible for the liability of the event.  Our focus during the state mandated school closure has been to follow the guidelines set forth by the Arizona Department of Education in conjunction with the Arizona Department of Health Services.  If not for these parameters, we would have had graduation as originally planned.