With the end of the school year approaching, Carmel High School seniors are preparing to cross the finish line — literally.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, CHS is unable to hold its traditional graduation ceremony, which typically packs more than 1,000 students and their families into the Indiana Farmers Coliseum at the Indiana State Fairgrounds. Instead, CHS will hold an in-person ceremony May 30 with grads recognized from the safety of their cars.
As their names are announced, students will be driven by family members in personal vehicles across the finish line on the Carmel High School track to receive a diploma cover and have photos taken, all while staying inside the car to promote physical distancing. Then, vehicles will leave the stadium and drive past Carmel High School before exiting on to Main Street.
Students have been assigned time slots to participate based on the first letter of their last name. The procession of 1,300 graduates is expected to take up to 5 hours.
Carmel Clay Schools Supt. Michael Beresford said his first choice would have been to hold a traditional ceremony, even if that meant delaying it. But after consulting with medical professionals, CCS administrators determined it likely won’t be safe to hold a large gathering at any point this summer.
“I think it was a good decision to proceed rather than delay (the ceremony),” Beresford told the school board May 18. “These seniors have lost so much since March. We couldn’t stand the thought of having to cancel one more thing if we were to plan something in June or July and then it not happen again. I think these events will be memorable and unique to the class.”
CCS will hold a virtual graduation ceremony at 2 p.m. May 31 that will include student speeches, certification of graduates, individual student recognitions and tassel turning. Students are encouraged to wear their caps and gowns and families are encouraged to hold viewing parties to celebrate the occasion.
Beresford said CHS administrators have been considering different graduation scenarios since mid-March, when schools shut down to prevent the spread of COVID-19.