Pender County Schools’ ‘virtual’ graduation ceremony causing concerns

(Photo: Pixabay/MGN)

BURGAW, NC (WWAY) — Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, school districts across the Cape Fear are quickly implementing changes to their traditional graduation ceremonies.

Recently, Pender County Schools announced it would create a ‘virtual’ graduation that would be edited together and shared with all high school students with a traditional graduation held at a later date if possible.

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The district’s plan involves having students at each of the county’s four high schools —  Topsail, Trask, Pender and Pender Early College — come to their campuses on select dates to receive their diplomas in a setting including the principal, graduate and small group of guests. Videos of all the graduation speeches at each school and photographs of the graduates accepting their diplomas would be edited into a ‘virtual’ graduation ceremony.

These videos would be released for viewing on the schools’ originally planned graduation dates: Pender Early College (June 3), Trask and Topsail High Schools (June 12) and Pender High School (June 13).

But there is growing opposition to the way the district is handling this year’s graduation ceremonies. That’s why a group plans to protest at the school board’s regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday, May 12, at 6 p.m.

Since the space where the school board normally meets isn’t conducive to social distancing recommendations, the meeting location has been changed to the gym at Pender High School.

Alex Riley, spokesman for Pender County Schools, said only 10 people will be permitted inside the school’s gym including the superintendent, board members and support staff.

Anyone with comments about the graduation ceremony should call 910-663-3501. You will be allowed to leave 3-minute message but you must begin by providing your full name. Each caller’s comments will be heard during the board meeting, Riley said.