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File photo of a Bradley, Illinois modified high school graduation ceremony. Cumberland County Schools is implementing a July ceremony to allow seniors to "walk across the stage" with their principals. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

High school seniors in Cumberland County will get the opportunity to walk across the stage in a graduation ceremony of sorts, Superintendent Dr. Marvin Connelly announced Tuesday.

“The seniors expressed how strongly they felt about being able to walk across the stage to receive their diploma,” said Dr. Connelly. “We want to honor our seniors’ request and are preparing for this opportunity.”

The plan, which still could be revised based on how things progress with the coronavirus, will allow school principals to have seniors “walk across the stage” to get their diploma in ceremonies between July 15 and 23. The event would likely take place at the Crown Complex, pending availability.

A limited number of tickets might be made available, depending on state guidance. And livestream opportunities will likely be made available. The students will also receive special cords recognizing the unusual nature of their senior years.

“The cord will represent the resiliency shown by our 2020 graduates as they have endured modified instruction, the loss of their senior prom and other special senior events, and now, a modified graduation ceremony,” Dr. Connelly said.

From Cumberland County Schools:

During the regular monthly meeting of the Cumberland County Board of Education today, Cumberland County Schools (CCS) Superintendent Dr. Marvin Connelly, Jr., shared with members of the Board plans to provide the opportunity for principals to invite graduating seniors to ‘walk across the stage’ to receive their diploma, amid COVID-19 social-distancing restrictions.
Contingent upon the direction of Gov. Roy Cooper and access to the Crown Complex, graduating seniors will be able to receive their diploma between July 15 – 23, 2020. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the district will not be able to move forward with graduation ceremonies as scheduled in May.
The district made this decision after meeting with the Graduation Planning Team, which is made up of all high school principals and approximately 40 senior student leaders.
“The seniors expressed how strongly they felt about being able to walk across the stage to receive their diploma,” said Dr. Connelly. “We want to honor our seniors’ request and are preparing for this opportunity.”
The district hopes to provide a limited number of tickets to parents and guardians of graduating seniors, pending guidance from Gov. Roy Cooper and the Cumberland County Health Department. If social distancing and other Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) precautions are still in place, the district is working to provide a way for guests to view the graduation ceremonies via livestream or through another media platform.
According to Dr. Connelly, the graduating seniors will receive a special cord to wear as they receive their diploma. “The cord will represent the resiliency shown by our 2020 graduates as they have endured modified instruction, the loss of their senior prom and other special senior events, and now, a modified graduation ceremony.”
The district has also approved a distribution plan for senior regalia. Each high school will be communicating with seniors and their families about the pick-up schedule of regalia, announcements, cap and gown, etc. Additionally, all seniors will receive a yard sign from CCS celebrating their academic accomplishments. All social-distancing rules will apply during each pick-up event.

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Brandon Plotnick is a former sports journalist, now living in the digital space with interests all over the musical and pop culture map.