In-person graduation approved for Southampton

Published 6:15 am Thursday, May 13, 2021

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The Southampton County School Board voted May 10 to approve Southampton High School (SHS) holding an in-person graduation ceremony in June on the football field.

The date and time are set for Friday, June 18, at 6:30 p.m., giving the ceremony two hours to unfold before sunset.

“I’m glad to stand before you tonight to be able to share that we would like to ask for an in-person graduation,” SHS Principal Aronda Bell said to board members May 10. “Even though we enjoyed our drive-thru parade last year, we would like to come back to some type of normalcy, and we do have a plan here for you that we’d like you to look at tonight.”

She explained that the high school’s original date and time for the graduation had been set for Saturday, June 19, at 10 a.m., but she and her staff were asking the board for a change to the evening the day before.

“June 19 is a holiday, so we would like for families to be able to celebrate with their families on that day and us not take up half of their day,” she said.

Bell stated June 18 would also function as the rain date, with the proceedings simply moving from outside to inside if weather requires it.

“We would set up inside, as we normally would, for the gym, just in case of rain, but we are asking that this graduation is held on the football field this year,” she said. “We would still have everything that we have on the inside except for the presentation to the graduates, the slideshow.”

Southampton High School has 206 students slated to graduate, Bell noted.

“We’re working hard to make sure that we continue to have 206 on that day,” she said.

She indicated the ticket plan would allow for around 800 guests.

“We are looking to give the kids four tickets,” she said. “We would color code those tickets in case we need to come inside. If we have to come inside, we would allow them to have two guests in the gym and two guests in the auditorium. This would help us with maintaining our social distancing spacing.”

With cabinet members, teachers, students and guests, she said the school is looking at hosting about 1,100 people for the ceremony.

In terms of logistics with regard to parking, she said, “We’re going to ask the students to park in the student parking lot. We’re going to use the back of the middle school to have our handicap parking. We’re going to use the front of the building where the buses unload and load for our regular guests to park.”

Some volunteers have offered to come and use their golf carts to transport people to the football field, she noted.

“We’re going to ask people to ride at their own convenience,” she said.

Included in Bell’s presentation to the school board were details of what the school would like to include in the ceremony, including speeches, messages and musical selections.

“We are going to livestream the ceremony whether we’re inside or outside, and we would put that up and post it so that those persons who are not able to come on whichever day we decide to have it would be able to look at it at their convenience,” she said.

Board members expressed no opposition to the high school’s plan at the meeting.