Home Waynesboro High Class of 2021 graduates choose indoor or outdoor ceremonies

Waynesboro High Class of 2021 graduates choose indoor or outdoor ceremonies

By Rebecca J. Barnabi
For Augusta Free Press

Waynesboro Public SchoolsWAYNESBORO — On April 22, Gov. Ralph Northam announced easing up on restrictions amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

By the time of that announcement, more than half of adults in Virginia had received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

In the Sixth Amended Executive Order 72, Northam expanded capacity for sports and entertainment events to 50 percent starting May 15.

Planning for this year’s Waynesboro High School graduation was already past the point of no return for Waynesboro Schools. However, the school system added changes to its plans since the school board’s regular meeting on April 13.

“We’ve had positive feedback,” said Waynesboro High Principal Bryan Stamm about plans before the governor announced easing restrictions.

Originally, each Class of 2021 graduate would be permitted to have 10 guests accompany them to a smaller ceremony held inside the high school on May 15. Now each graduate can bring up to 15 guests.

The school system is also able to provide a traditional outdoor graduation ceremony on Friday, May 14 at the football stadium “following within our governor’s orders,” Stamm said.

According to Stamm, a little less than half the class has signed up for the outdoor ceremony.

“That tells me that we’re doing the right thing by offering both options,” Stamm said.

Other Class of 2021 graduates prefer to graduate in smaller groups with their peers every 30 minutes beginning at 9 a.m. on May 15.

“Really what a family prefers, we’ve been able to offer,” Stamm said.

Stamm said he is happy to provide a more traditional graduation ceremony option.

“It’s nice to have the feeling of the end of the year,” he said.

A more traditional outdoor graduation ceremony on May 14 almost makes the end of the 2020-2021 academic year feel normal for Waynesboro staff, teachers and students after more than a year of a global pandemic.

“I am very pleased that Waynesboro High School is offering options for both an outdoor graduation ceremony which is a more traditional event and an indoor graduation ceremony for graduates who prefer that option,” Waynesboro Schools Superintendent Dr. Jeff Cassell said. “The options allow each graduate to have several guests without exceeding the capacity of the venues.”

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.