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Charles City High School plans commencement ceremony Sunday

Charles City High School plans commencement ceremony Sunday
Awarding diplomas and taking photographs were done one graduate and family at a time on May 24 at Charles City High School. Now, a class commencement ceremony is being planned for this Sunday. Press file photo by Bob Steenson
By Bob Steenson,

They’ve already received their diplomas, but this Sunday evening the members of the Charles City High School Class of 2020 will have a chance to get something that might be just as important — closure and a chance to say goodbye.

The Charles City School District released information Monday on plans for a commencement ceremony at 5:30 p.m. Sunday at the Comet football field. The traditional May graduation was canceled by COVID-19 concerns, and those same concerns will shape the event planned for this weekend.

High school Principal Bryan Jurrens said he has talked to many students who wanted a group ceremony for the class, in addition to the individual family events that were held over the course of a day when the original graduation was planned.

“They already have their diplomas. They already obviously know about their scholarships, but this is just that time, that closing of their career in high school – closing their educational career at Charles City – and that’s pretty valuable to them,” Jurrens said. “It’s that symbolic move across the stage, so they still wanted to be able to do that.”

During the ceremony, all graduates will be spaced 6 feet apart on the track in front of the home bleachers and all guests will be seated in the bleachers.

“All guests are asked to sit with their own family group and space themselves more than 6 feet away from other graduate’s family members,” the information from the school district said. “Our local health officials are recommending that each graduate limits their guests to less than 10 to ensure that we are maintaining social distancing while attending.”

Jurrens said the ceremony will follow the usual format as much as possible within the social distancing requirements.

There will be a speaker, and members of the Board of Education and high school leadership team have been invited.

“We’re pretty much going to operate a traditional commencement ceremony,” Jurrens said. “The only changes that we’re going to do is we won’t have a performance by our orchestra, and typically we have a choir performance. We’re not going to have that, either, just because it’s pretty hard to spread that large group out up on the stage.”

Jurrens said the high school choir director, Derek Sturtevant, had a version of “Pomp and Circumstance” he can play on the PA system, and has other music as well.

“He will be taking care of our audio. He will be playing some relevant things to us, because he does have some recordings made that we can use, too,” Jurrens said.

The event is scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m., and all participating graduates are asked to gather near the scoreboard by 5 p.m., wearing their caps and gowns.

In the event poor weather conditions exist or are predicted to occur the ceremony will be postponed to Tuesday, July 14, the district announcement said.

“To ensure that our graduates are separated at all times we will be preventing all contact during the commencement ceremony,” the district announcement said. “During the ceremony, students will be called up one at a time to walk across the stage. … They will be verbally recognized for their accomplishment and also receive congratulations from the administration and school board.

“Graduates and guests are welcome to wear facemasks and take any additional precautions that they feel necessary to ensure that they feel comfortable attending the commencement ceremony,” the announcement said. “At the conclusion of the ceremony, it is asked that all family groups maintain social distancing with other family groups.

Anyone who wants more information or who has questions is asked to contact the school at 641-257-6510 or