PENDER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — The Pender County Board of Education originally decided to hold a virtual graduation for the class of 2020, but after students and parents voiced concerns and protested that decision, the board voted to delay plans.
“I’ve cried a lot over it. I’ve watched my brother and sister both graduate here and it was so perfect, they had that traditional graduation,” said high school senior Faith Lana. “And I was ready to come here and finish it off for the family.”
It’s been a difficult few months for the class of 2020, missing out on milestones.
“Our prom was canceled, my senior night for soccer was canceled, the rest of my season was canceled,” said Topsail High senior Brooke Pacheco. “We only got through four games.”
The district planned to do a virtual graduation ceremony in addition to any in-person ceremony that might come later. However, some students were not in favor of this decision.
“I just think if we did that, there wouldn’t be as much of a turnout for our actual graduation later in the summer,” Pacheco said.
Speaking before the board, some students and parents gave suggestions about how a traditional ceremony could take place.
“I believe what we could do is have more of a graduation on the football field and tracks, said Topsail High senior Cody Wallis. “With all the graduates, if everyone were to be seated inside the stadium, we would still be able to maintain about 12 feet apart.”
Ultimately, the board voted to delay virtual graduation plans and any final decisions until May 22, exploring further options in the meantime.
“Really what they want to do is allow the state the opportunity to loosen the restrictions more, so that everybody’s comfortable,” said Superintendent Dr. Steven Hill. “And if there’s any more options available we can offer every option possible.”
The board says there is still the possibility of holding both a virtual graduation and traditional ceremony to accommodate those leaving town after they finish high school.