Some Butler County schools to hold individual graduations for hundreds

The high school graduations this month and next will be like none other in the history of area high schools as local school districts scramble to adhere to recently updated state mandates outlawing traditional big-crowd commencements. (File Photo/Journal-News)
The high school graduations this month and next will be like none other in the history of area high schools as local school districts scramble to adhere to recently updated state mandates outlawing traditional big-crowd commencements. (File Photo/Journal-News)

Some area high schools will experiment with non-traditional and virtual graduation ceremonies this month and next while some school officials are still waiting to decide how their seniors will be honored during the time of the coronavirus.

Mason, Madison, Hamilton and Lakota schools were the latest to announce high school commencement plans while some other Butler and southern Warren county school systems are still developing their plans.

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State orders barring events with crowds have also shuttered all public and private K-12 schools and forced school officials to get creative.

Officials from Ross Schools offered the latest twist Monday in announcing they plan to hold individual graduation ceremonies for each family.

“Our plan for a single family in-person graduation will afford every senior the opportunity to hear their name called as they walk across the stage in front of their immediate family in cap and gown to receive their diploma,” said Ross High School Principal Brian Martin. “We will be having approximately 185 individual graduations as opposed to one large one.”

Monroe High School plans a similar series of family-only graduations.

Lakota Superintendent Matthew Miller sent a letter to the district’s seniors and parents outlining plans for diploma pick-up for Lakota East and Lakota West students.

Miller wrote he understood the “deep disappointment” that comes with the announcement. So the district has decided to proceed with a combination of both formats to honor the graduates.

In addition to a virtual celebration that the district will unveil through a live watch party in early June (dates to be determined), it will offer graduates and their families a “personal graduation experience,” Miller wrote.

Tentatively set for May 30 and possibly May 31 depending on the number of participants, each Lakota high school graduate will be invited to receive their diploma case in a drive-through procession.

Hamilton Schools has canceled its high school graduation and scheduled a virtual commencement ceremony later this month, Superintendent Michael Holbrook wrote in a recent letter to families.

Hamilton is planning to honor its seniors with a virtual commencement ceremony at 6:30 p.m. May 21, Holbrook said.

“This is certainly not how we envisioned honoring our seniors, however, we are taking an approach that is flexible and balanced as we attempt to recognize our seniors and also ensure their safe exit to a bright future filled with multiple milestones and achievements,” he said.

Area districts that have decided on commencement changes:

Ross and Monroe high schools graduations will be individual family only in a series of scheduled, small gatherings with a few school officials.

Mason High School graduates will be visited at home by school officials and handed their diplomas with a socially distanced, car caravan through the community afterward.

Hamilton High School plans a virtual commencement.

Lakota's two high schools - Lakota East and Lakota West - will hold both a virtual graduation ceremony and a drive-through procession.

Madison High School will use the local Land Of Illusion attraction to hold a drive-through procession for its graduates.

Some area school districts, such as Fairfield Schools, had previously made tentative plans to hold outdoor commencement ceremonies in July and August at campus sports stadiums. But recent state orders prohibiting large crowd high school graduations have officials at some school districts still working on new arrangements to honor their graduating seniors.

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