Fairfield High School’s class of 2020 will have a graduation ceremony, Fairfield Local Superintendent Tim Dettwiller told The Times-Gazette.
On Friday, May 22 at 6 p.m., Fairfield’s graduating students and their families will drive their vehicles to a parking lot near the school’s baseball field. Vehicles will be lined up in alphabetical order, based on the students’ last names.
From the parking lot, the vehicles will have a clear view of the circle in front of the high school, where a 32-foot by 24-foot stage, 20-foot by 20-foot LED screen, and concert-style speaker system will be set up.
All speeches and the Pledge of Allegiance will be prerecorded. Fairfield High School Principal Stephen Hackett will act as the event’s emcee.
Once their names are called, students will go to a staging point, after which they’ll walk across a stage and pick up their diplomas. Diplomas won’t be handed to the students.
After receiving their diplomas, students will return to their vehicles.
Dettwiller said he, Hackett, and other staff members will encourage family members and friends to make noise, such as by honking, while students walk across the stage.
“Normally, it’s supposed to be very quiet, but we want this to be a true celebration. You can’t hear people clapping in their cars,” Dettwiller said. “We’ll just ask them, ‘Once you’ve made your noise, get quiet again, so we can hear the next student’s name and accomplishments.’”
At the end of the ceremony, students will be able to exit their vehicles once more for the turning of the tassels and throw their caps in the air, though they must maintain social distancing guidelines.
“We will have a large police presence to make sure social distancing guidelines are followed,” Dettwiller said. “That way if there’s an outbreak of hugging, they can break it up right away. We don’t anticipate that — I think people are just going to be so excited to be there together.”
After the ceremony is over, students and their families will leave in alphabetical order and head toward Leesburg, where the town will have a parade for them.
Dettwiller said it took nearly a month to research and plan the ceremony, and the district’s plan has been approved by the Highland County Health Department.
“This is what’s right for Fairfield. Greenfield and Hillsboro have their own unique situations. I applaud all of them for what they’re trying to do because it’s not easy. We knew with 75 graduating seniors, we have the space and the ability to do something like this,” Dettwiller said. “These students have put in 13 years of their lives at Fairfield. You hear this from every school, but we truly feel like it’s a family. There’s a great deal of pride in the community members here in the education the kids are receiving. Some schools, it’s about their sports; some schools, it’s about their facilities; for us, it’s about their education.”
The district is working with Rock the House from Cleveland to create the event. Three videographers from Rock the House will record the ceremony, which will also be live-streamed and broadcast on the radio. Students will receive recordings of the ceremony as well.
Students will receive one ticket to admit one vehicle to the ceremony. The district requests that vehicles be low-profile to avoid blocking others’ view of the stage.
Students will be able to decorate their caps, though staff members will check them, and the district is asking students and their families to decorate their vehicles.
Restrooms at the baseball field will be available during the ceremony. Someone will monitor the facilities to ensure only a small number of people are inside at one time. The facilities will also be sanitized throughout the ceremony.
Reach McKenzie Caldwell at 937-402-2570.