Dear CHS Class of 2020 Families,
We thank those of you who took the time to provide feedback and ideas in the district's Senior Events survey last week. Our administration reviewed every comment carefully, and we can say that unequivocally, what's important to you is important to us. Of the nearly 400 seniors and parents who took the survey, we were not surprised to see that 350 respondents indicated that graduation is most important to their family. We heard that many of you are in favor of a virtual commencement event in addition to some form of an in-person event, and so we've worked hard to explore our options.
We have spent the past weeks developing a plan to honor the Clarkston High School and Renaissance High School Class of 2020 in ways that foster a spirit of togetherness, respect long-held traditions, provide equitable recognition opportunities, and allow students and families to create special memories. Our decisions as a district must also consider what's feasible and safe to do during this unprecedented and uncertain time.
With the information we have at this time, here are our tentative plans for celebrating the CHS Class of 2020 (these plans are subject to change):
- Cap & Gown Distribution: CHS seniors will have the opportunity on June 3, June 4, or June 5 to pick up their caps and gowns, yearbooks, and personal belongings. They will also be able to return textbooks and technology loans, and pay any outstanding fines at this time. Assigned times and social distancing guidelines will be shared in a future communication. (This event replaces the traditional Senior Walk and Senior Picnic, which have been canceled due to local and state ordinances on gatherings of more than 10 people.)
- Commencement Car Parade: Let's paint the town blue and gold for the Class of 2020! On Saturday, June 13, families and graduates are invited to decorate their cars, dress in caps and gowns, and participate in a Commencement Car Parade procession through the streets of Clarkston. From their front porches, our community will have the opportunity to send off the Class of 2020 with encouraging signs, banners, and cheers in a truly unique Clarkston parade for the history books. Parade route, time, and more details will be shared in a future communication as well as on our district social media.
- Virtual Commencement Ceremony: Following the Commencement Car Parade on Saturday, June 13, a virtual commencement ceremony will be broadcasted on YouTube by Independence Television. The ceremony will closely resemble a traditional graduation event featuring senior speakers, administration, music, and recognition for each individual graduate in the form of a personalized slide with their name and photo. The video will remain online so that it can be rewatched, shared, and kept as a keepsake for the Class of 2020. All graduates of the Clarkston Class of 2020 will be mailed their diploma and a personal letter with memories and well-wishes from their teachers in June.
- Commencement Senior Speech: The theme for the CHS commencement senior speech is "Hope For Our Future." CHS seniors wishing to submit a written speech for a chance to be included in the commencement ceremony can send them to Mrs.Teresa Browne: firstname.lastname@example.org by Monday, May 11 (deadline has been extended).
- The Clarkston High School scoreboard will be illuminated in honor of the Class of 2020 on Friday, June 12 and Saturday, June 13.
- Honors and Awards: Events such as National Honor Society Induction Recognition, Senior Scholar Recognition, and Senior Awards Recognition have also been moved to a virtual format. If your student is being recognized at one of these events, your family will receive more information about how these events can be accessed.
Based on the continued extension of stay-at-home orders, the district has made the very difficult decision to cancel the senior prom and Post-Graduation Party for this year. We want you to know that this decision was not made lightly by our administration. We understand that graduating students look forward to these gatherings with a great deal of anticipation, however, at this time our most important priority is the health and well-being of our students.
In addition, our students and community are engaged in some unique initiatives that we hope will become new traditions in Clarkston, including the Clarkston Coalition's "You've Been Capped" yard sign campaign, a special Instagram page (@clarkston_2020) run by CHS seniors to profile all members of the Clarkston Class of 2020, and a Facebook Group in which community members can "Adopt A Clarkston Senior."
Understanding that our district must comply with the Governor's Executive Order, as well as local and state recommendations for health and safety, these plans are subject to change or be modified. We will continue looking for opportunities to bring together the Class of 2020 as we are able.
Though this is not the ending that anyone would have expected for our seniors, we know that collectively we will create new memories that will be no less special or meaningful. How do you want your child to remember this time? Even in the midst of uncertainty, we have the power to conscientiously choose joy and celebration as the cornerstones of this very important time in our children's lives.
Shawn Ryan, Superintendent of Schools
Gary Kaul, Clarkston High School Principal
About Clarkston Community Schools: Clarkston is a highly regarded school district with an enrollment of nearly 7,100 students. We have seven elementary schools (K-5), one middle school serving grades 6-7, one junior high for grades 8-9, and Clarkston High School, which serves students in grades 10-12. We also have an Early Childhood Center serving children ages 3-5, and an alternative high school/community education facility. Clarkston Community Schools students are well-prepared for a future that excites them, and believe that they can achieve their dreams. The mission of Clarkston Community Schools is to create a learning environment where students, staff, and families are challenged, healthy, engaged, safe, and supported.
Read more Clarkston Community Schools News at www.clarkston.k12.mi.us/news.
Media Contact: Mary Ellen Rowe, Marketing Director (248) 623-5460.