School district moves forward with plan to celebrate seniors

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By Superintendent Gary Lilly 

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have shared your hope for a traditional graduation ceremony.

To that end, we tentatively planned two dates, one in June at Bellevue Baptist Church and the other in July, at our own Dragon Stadium.

Unfortunately, neither appears to be a viable option due to the ongoing safeguards required to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

While the Tennessee Department of Education suggests that it may be possible to hold graduation ceremonies in football stadiums, the guidance ultimately defers to the recommendation of local health departments.

As recently as (last Thursday), officials at the Shelby County Health Department recommended against having a single—or even a split—graduation ceremony this summer.

Even in the best-case scenario (i.e., all numbers continue to trend down, no new cases, etc.), mass gatherings in June, or even July, would still be significantly limited.

As the father of a graduating high school senior myself, I am personally aware of the emotional burden that this lack of closure has caused.We empathize with our seniors, their parents, and their extended family members.

However, we remain steadfast in our desire to celebrate the Collierville High School Class of 2020 and their incredible accomplishments.

After much deliberation, we have decided to move forward with a solely virtual graduation ceremony in which all graduates will have the opportunity to walk across the stage in the Pickler Auditorium in full graduation regalia, receive their diploma, and have a picture taken by Holland Studios.

We have contracted with a professional production company to create a high-quality, once-in-a-lifetime graduation experience.

The ceremony will be streamed on a custom website at 7 p.m. on Friday, June 26, 2020, for graduates and their families to enjoy together.

All graduates will be assigned a time slot between the hours of 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. on Wednesday, June 3, 2020, or Thursday, June 4, 2020, to arrive on campus, walk across the stage, and receive their diploma. Each graduate may bring up to six family members.Social distancing guidelines will be followed throughout your entire visit on campus.All families will be separated by at least six feet as they move throughout the building.

Personal protective equipment, including masks and gloves, are strongly encouraged. All seniors and their parents will receive an update next week with their specific time slot and additional details.

We sincerely thank you for your patience and support during these times of uncertainty.

On behalf of the faculty, staff, and administration, we look forward to sharing the halls of CHS with our seniors one final time as we celebrate this important milestone and their transition to alumni of Collierville High School.