A billboard on Mount Pleasant’s Highway 17 reads “Save lives stay home #COVID19.” A stay at home order was passed in Mount Pleasant on March 31. (Hana Donnelly)
A billboard on Mount Pleasant’s Highway 17 reads “Save lives stay home #COVID19.” A stay at home order was passed in Mount Pleasant on March 31.

Hana Donnelly

Wando plans for virtual graduation ceremony

May 13, 2020

At this time, just last year, seniors were going around, saying goodbye to their teachers and friends room by room, before they walked out of Wando’s doors for the last time. 

This year, seniors will be saying their goodbyes through a computer screen and seeing the school for the last time from behind a car window. 

The district, the graduation committee and Principal Dr. Sherry Eppelsheimer secured a virtual graduation for seniors and are planning a “live” one with social distancing standards at a later date to be determined, Dr. Eppelsheimer said. 

“Our seniors have missed out on so much this year. It’s like a tragedy for them. It’s something that nobody can help. Nothing like this has happened before. We are all learning, we’re just sailing on uncharted waters. Things change from one day to the next,” she said. “We wouldn’t want you all leaving here without some type of recognition and actually getting your diplomas at a live graduation.”

Nothing like this has happened before. We are all learning, we’re just sailing on uncharted waters. Things change from one day to the next.”

— Dr. Sherry Eppelsheimer

But for the virtual graduation, the plans are set in stone. 

Seniors will livestream into the graduation, and the valedictorian and salutatorian speeches will be pre-recorded as will most of the ceremony, she said. The individual ceremonies will begin on June 8.

According to Wando’s website, “Each high school will have a virtual ceremony featuring each individual student’s photographs, commencement speeches and remarks, and other recognitions unique to the school.”

Along with graduation, seniors are scheduled for a drive-by, station-organized “check out” where no students get out of cars as they turn in textbooks, calculators, pay outstanding fees, pick up their yearbook and cap and gown. The district even has a “little surprise” for the seniors, Dr. Eppelsheimer said.

This will take place over the week of the 18th to the 22nd, and a similar model is being planned for the underclassmen when their final day of classes is over. 

“My priority is making sure kids have what they need as far as devices and making sure students are getting their work done, and that everybody’s engaged,” Dr. Eppelsheimer said. “Number one, making sure they are safe, and they’re not sick. And number two, if there’s anything we can do to support them, as far as getting all their work done by the end of the year. That’s what my focus is on.”

Over the past two months during the Coronavirus outbreak, the school has developed a system to try to keep kids engaged in their studies for the remainder of the year. The most important part is keeping and recording contact with students, she said. 

For each class, teachers must contact students through email or phone at least “two contacts per child per week,” she said. 

“And the teachers are trying their best to make sure the kids are engaged,” she said. “We are finding that some of our children are having just real issues with anxiety and being overwhelmed. And we just want to make sure that, again, all the supports are there… It is all hands on deck. We’re doing our best.”

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