Great Bend High School seniors were notified Friday that a tentative date for their graduation ceremony has been set. At this time, graduation is scheduled to take place at 5 p.m. Sunday, June 14, on the football field at Memorial Stadium.
“That is the plan,” Assistant Principal Randy Wetzel said. “But as you know, things change rapidly during this time.”
The class of 2020 will also be honored early in May, when street lamps in downtown Great Bend will display flags honoring graduating seniors.
Wetzel said the school district is working with the yearbook staff and local photographers to create flags that will include graduates’ names and photos.
“Photos were provided to GBHS by the student/family and we have contacted all photographers for permission to use,” Wetzel said in an email to families. Parents who don’t want a student’s flag displayed must contact him by Monday afternoon if they wish to opt out. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
“We would like to extend a special ‘thank you’ to Portraits by Shane for their assistance with this project,” Wetzel continued. “We will be back in touch when the installation and reveal date are confirmed.”
Seniors were sent a survey about their preferences for graduation and close to 70% of the 130 who responded said they would like to see graduation take place on June 14, four weeks after the May 17 date that was planned before the COVID-19 pandemic and the governor’s stay-at-home order. Gov. Laura Kelly’s order is set to expire on May 3 unless it is extended.
“I believe by waiting until June 14th, we have a better chance of having a traditional graduation on the football field,” Wetzel said. “Jostens will reprint the announcement insert with date and time at no extra charge.”
He estimates that the stadium could hold 900 people if everyone maintained 6 feet of separation.
“Of course, families could sit together and that number would increase. With that said, the governor would have to lift the restriction of no gathering larger than 10 people. We would have to space the seniors out at least 6 feet (as) the Air Force Academy did this last week. We are hoping to have graduation as normal as possible but we do have options if that is not possible.”
In addition to surveying students, the district created a task force to look at options for graduation and student recognition. Members were Principal Tim Friess and senior class sponsor Karen Maier, with students Daniel Abbott, Chloe Gibson, Jenna Mauler, Olivia Mull, Annette Sanchez and Bayle Sandy.
Wetzel noted that seniors must have all assignments for their classes completed and turned in by Thursday, May 14.