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Local Seniors will Graduate Despite COVID

By Anne Chlovechok

Using a combination of creative thinking and safety strategy, officials at Noble Local and Caldwell Exempted schools have devised a way for their seniors to be able to receive their diplomas in person, while still maintaining a safe environment as proscribed by state and local health officials.

On Saturday, May 16 from 9:00 a.m. until about 4:30 p.m., Noble Local seniors will take part in a ground-breaking graduation ceremony in which 10 people, including one senior, four family members, Superintendent Dan Leffingwell, Principal Justin Denius, a board member, a photographer and a videographer will be present in the SHS gymnasium.

From 9-10 a.m., graduation speakers will be live-streamed. The speaking order may not make sense live, but later will be edited and released in a graduation video.

Class President Branson VanFleet opens the ceremony with the closing speech, followed by an address by Co-Valedictorian Mya Stahl, the opening speech by class officer Lorrin Wiley, and addresses by Salutatorian Trysten Smith and Co-Valedictorian Aurora Irvin.

Following this, seniors will come in every five minutes accompanied by four family members. A fifth family member may be accommodated if seniors call Jill Franklin by 2 p.m. on Wednesday, May 13 at 740-732-2361. In such cases, either the superintendent or the board member will step out to accommodate the fifth family member. No additional family members can be accommodated, as the process requires the presence of two people on stage to present diplomas.

Here’s how it all works. Seniors are being informed of graduation order, but you can check it out on the Noble Local Facebook page as well. All family members for each senior are being asked to arrive in one vehicle if possible, pulled up in the front parking lot of SHS and are to remain in the vehicle until told to get out by a school official. At that time, they are to enter through the front doors and walk to the gymnasium, where the senior will walk in cap and gown across the stage and receive his or her diploma.

Following this, the senior and family will exit through the gym doors near the boy’s locker room and out the school doors leading to the outdoor basketball court area. They are to go directly to their vehicles and exit school property at that time.

If possible, the school is considering holding a more traditional ceremony on August 1. But this is iffy, fully depending on social distancing rules being fully lifted.

Caldwell students will graduate during the week of May 11. Each student will be assigned a specific time and day, and like SHS students, may bring four guests apiece. Seniors will cross the stage, receive their diploma, turn their tassel and toss their cap. Each graduation will be recorded and a recording will be produced. Details of when each senior will graduate will be released later at

Upon arrival at the school, seniors and their families will find routes, entrances and exits marked.

Seniors at both Noble County schools can take comfort in being the first, and hopefully only, class to graduate in such an out-of-the-box manner. This is one for the history books.

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