Graduation Date Moved Due to Coronavirus Concerns


Graphic by Abby Prywitch.

Abby Prywitch, Managing Editor

High school graduation is a moment every student looks forward to for their whole education career. Due to COVID-19, graduation for the class of 2020 will not happen on its original date. It has been pushed back to July 28 at 4 p.m. at the St.Charles Family Arena. 

“I initially felt worried due to possibly not having a graduation ceremony. Now however I’m feeling more optimistic and am glad that we can close out our senior year the right way,” senior Noah Wasserman said. 

For the past 14 years, Principal Sarah Power has been in charge of planning graduation. She has pushed for the district to try and hold in-person graduations if they can do so safely. 

“So when the district was talking about canceling and just thinking of other ideas I was an advocate and always said we need to try to figure out a way to do it in-person,” Power said.

Students are very grateful that the district is trying everything that they can to hold in-person graduation.

“I’m really grateful that it even got rescheduled in the first place. I know that many schools just canceled their graduation, so I’m really appreciative of everyone at Parkway that we even got a graduation. So, I don’t mind the graduation date at all and I think having it in July will be a unique experience,” senior Hannah Gao said. 

Currently, they are working on planning a virtual awards night, but Power believes that graduation is different than awards night. Graduation is one of the biggest milestones for students. Power hopes that moving back the date from the original date and already having a new date set gives people hope that it can happen. 

If the in-person graduation cannot take place at the end of July when scheduled then it will have to switch to a virtual ceremony in August. Parkway is planning and prepping for both cases. 

The district has stepped in and Chelsea Watson, deputy superintendent, has now taken over a lot of the planning for graduation. The Family Arena will have a protocol set in place and certain guidelines that must be followed. 

“ However they are in St. Charles, which I think is a little helpful because they will be a few weeks ahead of St. Louis county to kind of ease things in,” Power said. 

Power emphasized that space is not a problem since the Family Arena is big, the question now is if we groups that big will be allowed.  Students will be set up differently. 

In a time of such abnormalcy, the administration is trying to keep things as normal as can be for the seniors during this unprecedented time. 

“Dr.McCarthy is very intentional with how we do things and the dates we do things, ” Power said. 

On Friday, May 8, the seniors will be delivered a special surprise around the same time they would have had their senior barbeque. Seniors will be able to pick up their caps and Gowns on Tuesday, May 12, which is the same day they would have been getting them during graduation practice. Ten staff members will be helping hand out caps and gowns. To space everyone out they have divided it by the alphabet. Both of these things were scheduled on those days intentionally to try and provide the seniors with some sense of normalcy.  

Canceling evening reflection was not an easy choice. Power believes that what makes that night so wonderful is because it is hosted at school and due to restrictions in place Parkway Central does not have the space to host that safely.

“Evening of reflection wasn’t something that I was really excited about and looking forward to, so I’m not that sad about it getting canceled,” Gao said. 

Senior, student body president, Matthew Chen was supposed to give a speech the night of evening of reflection. Due to the cancellation, he will no longer be able to give that speech in-person. 

“I am kind of bummed about it but honestly not too upset because we are still getting graduation and that’s pretty good given the circumstance,” Chen said.

To celebrate the seniors Parkway Central has partnered with Fogarty Services to give each senior a personalized senior celebration. This will allow family and friends to submit pictures and videos to congratulate seniors’. All of the celebrations will include messages from the district and school for the class of 2020 along with friends and family. A video of a speech Chen has written will also be sent out to all seniors on their personalized celebrations. May 14, the day graduation was supposed to originally happen, every senior will receive a QR code special to them in their Parkway email account to view their personalized senior celebration. This was added in hopes to help family and friends celebrate the seniors. 

“I am hopeful and that is all I can be,” Power said.