Area high school graduations still changed, but closer to normal: What districts are doing

It's not normal but it's getting closer to normal as area high schools this month return to more traditional commencement ceremonies. Last year saw coronavirus concerns force some historically first venues such as Hamilton High School's graduation at a movie drive-in. Some high schools are even returning to indoor ceremonies but still with coronavirus precautions including masks and smaller crowds. (File Photo\Journal-News)
It's not normal but it's getting closer to normal as area high schools this month return to more traditional commencement ceremonies. Last year saw coronavirus concerns force some historically first venues such as Hamilton High School's graduation at a movie drive-in. Some high schools are even returning to indoor ceremonies but still with coronavirus precautions including masks and smaller crowds. (File Photo\Journal-News)

Graduating seniors from Hamilton High School won’t be going to a movie drive-in for their commencement in this second spring of the coronavirus pandemic.

Members of the current Hamilton graduating class – along with other area seniors – are returning to somewhat more traditional locations compared to 2020, which included postponements and unique locations like the drive-in ceremony Hamilton tried last year.

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Hamilton will instead hold an outdoor commencement in its campus stadium, as will Madison and Middletown schools.

Mason High School is staying outside too but using center court at the Lindner Family Tennis Center, home of one of professional tennis’ notable tournaments, which the school last used for graduation in 1983.

ExploreSome area high school graduations returning to pre-coronavirus indoor venues

Other districts, such as Lakota and Fairfield, are moving away from last year’s outdoor ceremonies back to their traditional venue of the Cintas Center on Xavier University’s campus.

“Like many districts in Butler County, Hamilton City Schools is excited to see trends returning to normalcy,” said Mike Holbrook, superintendent for district.

The ceremony, which is 7 p.m. on May 25 Virgil Schwarm Stadium, will still be radically different from traditional graduations due to numerous coronavirus safety precautions, including spaced seating, limited tickets and a mask requirement for everyone except the few seconds when graduates pose for their official photo receiving their diploma, said Holbrook.

The district worked closely with Hamilton’s Health Department, he said, and once guests enter they will be directed to sit on stickers placed throughout the stadium, three feet apart, to maintain social distancing. Guests will also be asked to remain in their seats, minimizing movement throughout the stadium during the ceremony.

Fairfield High School is headed back to the Cintas Center after holding by appointment individual graduation ceremonies in its stadium last year limited to each senior’s immediate family.

Masks will be employed there too, said Fairfield Schools Spokeswoman Gina Gentry-Fletcher, as well a split schedule – employed by some other local districts – to lessen the crowds of graduates and family members.

Students and their families have been compliant with mask requirements throughout the school year at a wide variety of events, said Gentry-Fletcher.

“We have had no instances of disregard for our requirement to wear masks in school and as spectators at events,” she said.

For details on your local high school’s commencement ceremonies go to the school’s or district’s website.

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