Graduation times remain tentative, but faces from the Class of 2020 now adorn Great Bend High School’s Memorial Stadium. Over 200 photo flags were recently installed along the north and south sides of the stadium. They will remain on display through the month of May.
“Graduation is one of those moments that reminds us education is a community effort,” said Randy Wetzel, vice principal at GBHS. “While we’re celebrating the academic achievement of the graduates, we’re also celebrating the shared experience of families, educators, and community members who have traveled alongside these students and helped them reach this milestone.”
Shane and Jill Boultinghouse of Portraits by Shane in downtown Great Bend collaborated with GBHS to organize the flag project. The time line of the project was expedited by using students’ submissions to the 2020 Rhorea yearbook. Local photographers generously waived copyrights to ensure this tribute was made possible, said USD 428 Public Information Director Andrea Bauer. In addition to the work of Portraits by Shane, GBHS administrators extend their appreciation to Riggs Studio, Megan Cates Photography, Amy Stein Photography, Images by Emily, Stephen McAnulla Photography and others for allowing the use of their photos.
Graduating seniors expressed their appreciation for the display.
“I am so thankful for our administration and community,” said GBHS senior Bayle Sandy. “By putting up these banners it hits the heart of every senior. The generosity, compassion, and support that USD 428 and Great Bend has shown is what makes our school and community so great.”
“We will always remember how the world came together to end our year on a high note,” said Anette Sanchez, another GBHS senior.
Commencement plans tentative
GBHS assembled a Graduation Task Force last month to gather feedback from students and families as well as explore possible plans for graduation. The majority of students who responded to a survey were in favor of a June 14 commencement at Memorial Stadium, if possible.
However, Gov. Laura Kelly recently announced a four-phase plan to reopen Kansas activities and businesses. Graduations, as well as fairs, festivals and parades, will not be allowed before June 1 at the earliest, but mass gatherings of more than 90 individuals won’t be allowed before June 15, and the phases could be extended by executive order is the governor determines it is necessary based on the overall progress of the state on outlined health metrics.
In response to the Governor’s recent announcement of Kansas’s phased reopening, plans for the 133rd Annual Commencement Ceremony remain tentative as the task force comprised of seniors and GBHS administration is revisiting options. USD 428 and GBHS administration confirm that the event will be planned in accordance with future recommendations from the CDC, KDHE and Barton County Health Department.
“We understand this is not the way our students dreamed their senior year would end. We want to celebrate and encourage them as they close this chapter of their life and begin the next,” Wetzel said.
USD 428 has created a webpage dedicated to the Class of 2020 to serve as a source for graduation information, senior tributes, and more. Visit GreatBendSchools.net and click on “Class of 2020 Information.”