Polk County Early College to hold modified graduation ceremony on Saturday in Tennant Stadium

Polk County Early College will hold its 2020 commencement exercises on Saturday, May 30 at 9 a.m. in G.M. Tennant Stadium.

Per Executive Orders of Governor Roy Cooper as well as guidance from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services and N.C. Department of Public Instruction, Polk County Schools will not be able to have “traditional” graduation ceremonies for Early College seniors.

The district is committed to celebrating the graduates as best as possible given current restrictions due to the global coronavirus pandemic. With those limits in mind, Polk County Schools has planned an event that will allow all seniors to graduate together and families to view commencement in person.

Details of the ceremony include:

Commencement will take place in G.M. Tennant Stadium at Polk County High School. The stage will be set up on the field facing the home stands. All PCEC seniors will graduate together.

Each graduate will be allowed to have one passenger vehicle of family members and observers that can attend in drive-in fashion. Vehicles will be allowed to drive around the stadium track and park facing the stage, in front of the home stands, so the ceremony can be viewed from the car.  A rain date of Sunday, May 31 at 2 p.m. has been set in case of bad weather.  

Procedures / Guidelines

  • All arriving traffic will be directed to the rear access road to avoid the Polk County Farmer’s Market being held in the student parking lot (see map below)
  • Seniors should arrive at the field house next to the stadium at 8:15 a.m. to prepare for the ceremony. Those who drive themselves should park in the grassy area beside the field house outside the stadium gates.
  • Parent / family vehicles should arrive at 8:45 a.m. and will be directed to the stadium and track for parking to view the ceremony
  • Each graduate can invite one vehicle of family members and observers.
  • Passenger vehicles only are allowed. Vehicles may not tow trailers and no buses, RV’s, dump trucks, etc. will be allowed.
  • Family members / observers must remain in their vehicles to adhere with mass gathering guidelines.
  • The ceremony will begin at 9 a.m. with a welcome and speeches, and it will conclude once all seniors have received their diplomas and have been confirmed as graduates.
  • All ceremony participants (those outside of vehicles) will be screened ahead of time for wellness (health questions, temperature check, etc.)
  • Graduates, staff or observers should not attend if they have been sick or exposed to COVID-19, or if they have been around someone who is sick or exposed to COVID-19
  • Those who are in a high-risk category regarding health should not attend
  • All students and staff will be socially distanced (six feet)
  • All students and staff will be wearing masks (personalized for graduates)
  • Polk County Schools will offer a live video stream of the event as well as record and make available online for future viewing. The link will be posted on polkschools.org and polkstudents.com.
  • A photographer will be present to take pictures of each graduate receiving their diploma. A copy of the picture will be made available to family digitally and in hardcopy at no charge.
  • Once the ceremony has concluded, observers and vehicles must leave the stadium area. There will be no gathering, reception or pictures allowed afterward in the stadium
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