BUTLER, Pa. (KDKA) – High school seniors across the area are anxiously waiting to find out how they will get their diplomas.
“It’s kind of an uneasy feeling, that you don’t know what they are going to do for your biggest accomplishment until your college graduation,” said Dale Rubright, who’s a Seneca Valley senior.
Some school districts like Seneca Valley are still trying to figure out the best way to honor the graduates. A survey was sent out to Seneca seniors to get feedback on what the students wanted to do with the current social distancing guidelines.
“The first option was the drive-thru graduation that a lot of schools are doing. The second, we still get to walk across the stage on the field and our parents get to stand up at the top of the bleachers. The third was a virtual graduation and the fourth was someone hand-delivers it to you and says congratulations in-person at your house,” Rubright said.
School officials tell KDKA they are still going through the survey results and hope to have an answer soon. For Rubright, he voted for the “on the field” option.
“I picked the second one because it was the closest to a regular graduation and your parents still got to experience it kind of how it would be originally getting to stand at the top of the bleachers and still take pictures,” Rubright said.
He said the only downside is that there is not an option that will allow the entire senior class to graduate together.
“It is a little disappointing because it’s the last time you are together as a student body, but now it’s totally different and you go one by one,” Rubright said.
Meanwhile, Mars School District announced its seniors will receive diplomas in the parking lot as a group.
“A big goal of ours was to still have the students celebrate together. That’s the joy of graduation, is you are there with your classmates and your families and their families,” said Lindsay Rosswog who’s the Mars High School principal.
On the original graduation date of June 12, the families of the seniors will be parked around the school in every other parking space. The graduates will then stand in front of the car to receive their diploma before walking past their fellow classmates.
“They will pass every one of their classmates and every one of their classmate’s families. We think that is what makes this special and it’s something these kids will remember for the rest of their lives,” said David Kuremsky, who’s a teacher at Mars.
To the north in Butler, Superintendent Brian White said school officials looked at all options to honor the seniors.
“Our kids have worked really hard over the last 13 years and we want to recognize them in the best way we can,” White said.
After looking at our district’s plans, White tells KDKA the graduating class size and demographics made it difficult.
“Not all our families in the city of Butler have cars. Some rely on public transportation so each option could include or exclude people so we wanted to make sure every senior was included,” White said.
Butler will hand out diplomas over a three day period on June 3, 4 and 5. Each student and six guests will be in the auditorium to walk across the stage and a family member will hand the senior the diploma. Then the pre-recorded speeches with slideshows will be broadcast on the June 5.
“It will take us a little bit of time and effort to do it this way, but the students are worth it,” White tells KDKA.
If social distancing restrictions are lifted, Butler will hold a more traditional ceremony for the seniors on the football field in July.