Franklin planning virtual graduation for Class of 2020

Like every high school, the Franklin High School Class of 2020 has had a unique senior year.

The 212 seniors will graduate June 5 in a virtual commencement ceremony due to the state ban of mass gatherings because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Superintendent Michael Sander said he and other Warren County school superintendents have scheduled virtual graduations. He said districts are looking for possible in-person events later this summer with the hope the mass gatherings ban will be relaxed or terminated by the state. Sander said the Ohio Department of Education is recommending virtual graduations to avoid mass gatherings.

Board President Rachel Ruppert-Wolfinbarger said pushing the graduation ceremony further into the summer may not be an option. She said the seniors need “finality” to their high school education and pushing it back could conflict with vacations or when students leave to enter the military.

Board member Lori Raleigh suggested creating some type of commemorative item such as planting a tree or dedicating a memorial honoring the Class of 2020.

Kelli Fromm, high school principal, said parents are wanting to see the district try to exhaust all options and that the students and parents have been “gracious” in light of the restrictions.

Sander said Fromm developed a plan for the virtual graduation and other year-end events. Those events include:

  • May 7: School will be open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. for locker clean-out; pick-up senior class T-shirts, caps and gowns and paying outstanding lunch or school fees and pick up their last FHS lunch.
  • May 15: Senior Awards will be live-streamed at 1 p.m.
  • Week of May 11: Times will be scheduled for students to come in with their cap and gown to get a photo with the FHS administration.
  • Starting May 19: Seniors can pick up their diplomas from 9 a.m. to noon on Tuesdays and Thursdays in the FHS main office.
  • June 5: Virtual graduation ceremony begins at 7 p.m.
  • July 30: An in-person celebration is tentatively set for 7 p.m. Thursday, July 30 at the Franklin Stadium. District officials want people to be prepared that it is highly unlikely due to the COVID-19 restrictions. If the district is able to host the event, graduates will be limited to two guests.

In a letter posted on the district’s website Tuesday, the school board recognized the senior class.

“You have been especially affected by the pandemic closures and cancellations, and that has not gone unnoticed. Despite the disappointments, you have remained remarkably strong and positive, which is not surprising in the least to those that know you,” the board said.

The board thanked the community for going above and beyond in support of the senior class.

“They are missing out on many of the traditional rites of passage, but it has been inspiring to witness the innovative and meaningful ways our community is finding to celebrate our graduates,” the board said.

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