Although it will look drastically different from years past, McNary High School will be hosting a multitude of in-person graduation ceremonies on Friday, August 7.
Each ceremony will be held at the McNary football field.
Because of Marion County’s phase two restrictions on outdoor public gatherings, each ceremony will feature a maximum of 45 graduates. Each student can invite up to four people to the ceremony.
All attendees are encouraged to socially distance and wear masks. Each ceremony is scheduled to be between 35-45 minutes long and deep cleaning of surfaces is scheduled in-between each gathering.
“The most important things are safety, and making sure we can give our kids this moment,” McNary assistant principal Dan Borresen said.
Although it’s unknown at this time how many ceremonies will take place, Borresen estimates that there will be seven to eight ceremonies that will happen between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. — there are more than 400 graduates in McNary’s class of 2020, though not all of them are expected to be in attendance for a ceremony.
Students can go onto the McNary website to sign up for a ceremony and pick the group they want to walk with. The deadline to sign up is July 16th.
“It was really important for students to be able to pick their own groups. Our student leadership team has been very involved in the decision-making process,” Borresen said. “We want to keep the tradition of kids having their moment to walk across the stage and receive their diploma.”
It’s unknown at this time if there will be a keynote speaker.
McNary Principal Erik Jespersen will give a speech at each ceremony, but there won’t be any student speeches that take place.
“It would have been a lot of a student speaker to stay and give the same speech eight times,” Borresen said.
One of the biggest logistical issues that McNary is facing right now is the parking situation.
The McNary campus was supposed to be closed for the summer due to heavy construction going on at the school. The graduation ceremony was originally scheduled to be at the Pavilion at the Oregon State Fairgrounds before the COVID-19 pandemic threw a wrench into the plans.
Parking is extremely limited right now due to construction. Borresen says there will be a few disability spaces available, but that most people will have to park outside of the school lot.
The McNary staff is working on a possible drop-off lane to be made available for the event.
“Parking is completely out of our control right now. We looked at a number of other options to hold graduation, but none of them worked,” Borresen said. “Even with the constructions issues, we still felt like this was something that we wanted to provide to our graduates.”
The parking issue won’t likely be the only inconvenience that people in attendance will be facing.
To adhere to social distancing policies, people will only be allowed to the campus through the south entrance off of Chemawa Road and exit through the north entrance onto Lockhaven Drive.
“The district might decide to change things, but that is how we are planning on proceeding for now,” Borresen said. “We’re just doing the best we can to keep people safe.”
For those unable to attend, Borresen is hoping that each ceremony will be broadcasted by Capitol Community Television (CCTV) or the McNary video production program.
Borresen also asks that those in attendance arrive no earlier than 15 minutes before the ceremony they are scheduled to attend.
The school asks that photos after the ceremony be taken at the north end of the stadium by the junior varsity baseball field. Borresen encourages those that want to take more extensive photos do so at Keizer Rapids Park.