The Class of 2020

Senior Grace Reiffenberger is all smiles even though she and her classmates have been out of school since mid March due to COVID-19. Parker seniors will celebrate graduation next Saturday, May. 16. (Photo/Sarah Ebeling)

Sarah Ebeling | Managing Editor

Next week is bringing mixed emotions to the Class of 2020 and their families. This year’s graduation doesn’t feel like any graduations of years past when it comes to celebrating major milestones.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to dictate how events can be held, the Parker School District is working hard to make sure that this year’s seniors have the very best graduation experience possible.
Because of regulations set forth by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the South Dakota Department of Health (DOH), administrations are coming up with unique ways to hold graduation ceremonies.
And Parker is no different. An outdoor ceremony will be held on Saturday, May 16 at 2 p.m. with a rain date of Sunday, May 17. The event, planned to be held at the Parker football field will be open to the public with parents and siblings only being allowed on a gridded area on the field. There will be other marked areas for anyone else wanting to attend. The public is asked to bring their own lawnchairs to sit in, either on the grass or off to the side. No chairs will be allowed on the track.
The southeast parking lot at the football field will be for drop-off only. Community and family members are being encouraged to park in the north parking lot by the soccer fields. Parking will not be allowed on Tomi Drive as that will be reserved for the graduates. There will be some first-come-first-serve parking spots available for COVID-19 susceptible people and for handicapped parking.
Superintendent Donavan DeBoer said that graduation itself will be very traditional from speeches to the slideshow, awards and every other aspect. One thing that will be different is this year’s rose ceremony. He explained that instead of it being done in the middle of the slideshow, it will be done at the end of graduation, along with a balloon release. Also new will be the Daktronics board that has been rented to allow the public to all see the ceremony from a distance.
“I am extremely grateful things have evolved allowing us to do this for our graduates. I want to encourage anyone that comes to graduation to understand the risks and to take personal responsibility on their individual needs when it comes to precautions,” said DeBoer.
He noted though, that anyone coming to the ceremony needs to check out the CDC and DOH guidelines to determine risk factors for coronavirus as well as practicing social distancing and other necessary precautions.
As soon as graduation is over, students and their family will be dismissed to their cars to take part in the parade.
The parade, which will take part immediately after graduation, is something that several senior parents put together. Mom Amy Laible said that they knew people would be thinking of the seniors and so they thought a parade would be the best option.
“With graduation up in the air, at the time, we started planning a graduate parade,” she said.
Following the ceremony, each student will be in a vehicle with their parents that will have a sign with their name, future plans and major if they are going on to secondary education.
“We want to emphasize for the community to park all throughout the parade route and please remember social distancing! We encourage signs, words of encouragement as they pass by, but please note, vehicles will not be stopping,” said Laible.
She noted too that if anyone has items for the graduates, they will need to give them to them in an alternate fashion and not during the parade.

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