Two graduations down and one to go for the Madison County Class of 2020. Earlham and I-35 completed their ceremonies on Sunday afternoon, May 24. Winterset will have their version of commencement at the south side of the Winterset courthouse at 2:30 in the afternoon on Sunday, May 31. If weather becomes a factor, the program would begin at 11 a.m.
With the onset of the pandemic, school officials donned their thinking caps and came up with unique ways to adhere to state regulations for social distancing and still honor their seniors.
In Earlham, seniors normally begin the road to graduation with their annual honorary walk. Donning their caps and gowns they usually travel through the halls amidst the cheers and applause of teachers and underclassmen while being serenaded by the school band for their last hurrah.
This year was different, as they socially distanced in retrieving their caps and gowns on May 7, and were asked to put them on immediately as Bailey Gully took a video of them walking out the front door of the school. Seniors would ultimately receive a copy of the “walk” video at a later date.
Scholarship and awards night was the next event, as six presenters combined to share in one video, over half a million dollars worth of scholarships and awards achieved by the students.
On Friday, May 22, led by the police and sheriff, seniors participated in a vehicle parade traveling through all the streets in Earlham. There were vinyl banners, yard signs, and T-shirts for every graduate.
As far as graduation, parents and seniors filled out a survey which included ten options on how to handle the 2020 ceremony. They decided on a personalized ceremony to be held on Sunday, May 24. Although it would require more work, school officials wanted to give seniors an appropriate celebration.
It was decided that each senior would be assigned a time to come to school, attired in their cap and gown to walk across the stage as their name was called and receive their diploma from the School Board President. A total of five family members could be present and would be escorted into the auditorium to view their graduate, then escorted out. Seats were sanitized before the next graduate entered with their family.
Social distancing was practiced; marks were placed on the floor before students entered the hall and when they left. A professional photographer was on hand to capture seniors receiving their diplomas and the whole day was filmed.
It was a long day for all involved, yet a memorable day for seniors.
At Interstate 35
Interstate 35 seniors had already participated in a virtual scholarship and awards ceremony on May 21, so on Sunday, May 24, they headed to the parking lot west of the school to receive their keys to the future: their diplomas.
The parking lot was rather colorful as it filled with graduates wearing caps and gowns in the school colors of Roadrunner red and blue. They waited with their families for the ceremonies to start and their names to be called. Some of the vehicles were decorated with balloons and streamers honoring their respective graduates, who would be recognized in the parade that would follow the ceremony.
The festivities began as Secondary Principal Steve Kaster read the names of the graduates in alphabetical order. They left their families to approach the stage and receive their diplomas as school board members Sara Hughes, Eddie Vonnhame, Cindi Cassady, Jeremy Maske, and Roger Cannoy were on hand to ensure graduates a smooth retrieval of the diploma, rose, and gift that were available. Family members were allowed to approach the stage and take pictures as graduates moved the tassels on their caps from one side to the other, signaling completion of their high school years.
After the last name on the graduate list of 2020 was announced, grads and their families participated in a motorcade-style parade led by a highly decorated school bus through the streets of Truro and on to New Virginia.
As they traveled through town, seniors celebrated their road to the future by waving from the sunroofs of cars or the backs of pickups.