READY FOR THE SHOW

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WCHS Class of 2020 set for drive-in graduation ceremony this Friday

  • White County High School Assistant Principal Adam Wiley looks at a video production truck in the school parking lot where a “drive-in” graduation ceremony will be held this Friday due to restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The event will also feature a screen for video and a live broadcast. (Photo/Stephanie Hill)
    White County High School Assistant Principal Adam Wiley looks at a video production truck in the school parking lot where a “drive-in” graduation ceremony will be held this Friday due to restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The event will also feature a screen for video and a live broadcast. (Photo/Stephanie Hill)
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Even with the COVID-19 pandemic, White County School System found an unconventional way to celebrate the 246-member Class of 2020 – with a “drive-in” graduation.

Set for this Friday, May 22, the event will have seniors and family members park a vehicle in White County High School’s tiered parking lot, and School Superintendent Dr. Laurie Burkett and WCHS Principal Mary Anne Collier will walk to each vehicle to deliver diplomas to graduates. To keep with the drive-in style theme, there will be a giant screen at the front of the parking lot that will show the event live via Warrior TV. There will also be a stage in front of the screen where Burkett and Collier will sit.

“We’ve gone through a lot of steps to get where we are,” WCHS Assistant Principal Adam Wiley said at a school board meeting Tuesday, May 19. “We have met multiple times with [White County Public Safety Director] David Murphy to make sure our plan lines up with county restrictions. We met with them for the last time yesterday (May 18) and they’ve given us the green light, thumbs up.”

There will be White County Sheriff’s Office deputies on hand, along with members of the county’s Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), to help with social distancing, Wiley said.

There are also plans to allow students to stand in front of their vehicles, turn their tassels and toss their hats, Wiley said.

“I just want to say, we appreciate all of the support from you all (board members), as well as the support from Dr. Burkett and her team,” said Collier during the meeting. “As we have moved forward with this, 

we’re really excited.”

Wiley said he believes many seniors will attend Friday’s graduation ceremony, because school officials can promise the graduation will happen. They can’t guarantee a proposed, more traditional graduation ceremony planned for the end of July.

“We’re going to honor them in a pretty unique and awesome fashion and I’m excited for that,” Wiley said.

Wiley isn’t the only one excited for Friday night, with Burkett saying she expects graduation will be amazing.

“I can’t wait to see all the planning and hard work come to fruition Friday night,” Burkett said. “Mary Anne Collier, her staff, and entire admin team have worked tirelessly to plan out every detail. Our seniors deserve all that we can do to celebrate and honor them as they reach this milestone. It will be a very special night, one we hope they will always remember. What a great example of #wcbemore.”

Collier echoed the sentiment, saying she’s eager for seniors to celebrate on campus.

“We are very excited to have all of our seniors on campus together to celebrate their graduation together as a class,” Collier said. “They have worked so hard to get to this point and have had to miss out on so many things at the end of their senior year-we wanted to make sure they didn’t miss out on graduation. Honoring our students has been the focus of everything we have planned for graduation and we can’t wait to have the opportunity recognize them on Friday night. We could not be more proud of the Class of 2020 for finishing Warrior strong.”

Graduation is set for this Friday, May 22, at 9 p.m. at WCHS. According to information sent out by the high school, students need to wear their cap, gown and all regalia. The campus will not open until 8:30 p.m. and everyone is asked to use the restroom before coming. There will be a restroom available at the high school, but there will be limited access.

The ceremony will feature live and recorded footage, and audio will be broadcast on 87.9FM radio. It can also be viewed by going to the WCHS website and clicking on the “Graduation 2020” link.

Vehicle information

• Each graduating senior will be allowed one vehicle that fits in a standard parking space on campus for the ceremony.

• Parking spaces will be assigned based on walking order and diploma delivery

• Vehicle decorations are permitted as long as they do not block the view of other vehicles and are not a safety hazard while driving. You may not sit in the back of a truck or bring chairs to sit outside your vehicle

• You may not exit your vehicle at any time while on campus unless you are retrieving your diploma or being escorted to the restroom

Additional details, including procedure if you need to use the restroom, can be found here.