Roanoke Valley high schools excited to host in-person graduations

Published: Mar. 18, 2021 at 4:36 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - Pomp and circumstance will be returning to Virginia high school graduations this spring.

Gov. Ralph Northam (D-VA) has announced limited in-person ceremonies will be allowed.

The governor’s draft plans allow for 500-person indoor gatherings in person, or 30% capacity, whichever is less.

The plans also permit 5,000-person outdoor gatherings, or 30% capacity, whichever is less.

For the graduating class of nearly 500 students at Franklin County High School, the capacity limit is the biggest challenge.

Regardless, they are still moving ahead with planning, handing out caps and gowns already at the end of this month.

“I’m going to call it a ‘traditional graduation’ because that’s what we’re going to make it look like,” said Franklin County High School Principal Jon Crutchfield.

“As the principal, I want to do it right, but I want to do it to a degree that our kids and our parents and our community realize that we’re making this a big deal for them.”

At Botetourt County Public Schools, administrators were already planning for outdoor graduation ceremonies, just hoping they would be permitted.

Now, they can rest assured they will be allowed to celebrate their students one last time.

“They’ve been through a lot this year and the previous 12 years,” said Superintendent Jonathan Russ. “Anytime we can celebrate children and allow parents to participate and join that celebration, it’s a good thing.”

At North Cross School, they hosted a small in-person graduation last year, preparing them well for this go-round.

Families will be grouped together in pods and faculty and staff will be allowed to attend, unlike last year.

“We’ll have individual pods for every family and so I think we’re going to be able to allow each student to have up to six family members,” said Head of School Christian Proctor.

We also checked in with Salem and Roanoke City Schools, as well as Roanoke County Public Schools. All three school divisions are planning in-person graduations, but their plans have not yet been finalized.

Gov. Northam is expected to amend an executive order April 1 to allow for these graduations to take place.

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