SHS Class of 2020 commencement to include parking lot ceremony and parade

The Seymour High School Class of 2020 graduation ceremony will be different this year, but it sure will be remembered.

SHS administrators have come up with a way to make it possible for the record 354 graduates to be together one last time and still experience graduation while observing COVID-19 social distancing and crowd size guidelines.

Instead of the traditional commencement held in the world’s largest high school gymnasium, graduates will be recognized during a ceremony on May 31 in the student parking lot followed by a parade through the community.

Assistant Principal Talmadge Reasoner said it was a substantial challenge for the school to plan such an event, but they wanted students to have the opportunity to graduate together in person, not virtually.

“The novel coronavirus disrupted many of the traditions a senior typically will experience,” he said. “The graduation ceremony represents the pinnacle of these events and requires all efforts to make it as unique and memorable as possible for the graduates while also providing the necessary level of honor and respect an accomplishment of this magnitude deserves.”

Beginning at 1:45 p.m., students and their parents or guardians may begin arriving at the school using the parking lot’s northwest entrance, Entrance 3, off of Stadium Drive.

Students should wear their graduation caps and gowns and are encouraged to decorate their vehicle in celebration of their accomplishment.

Only one vehicle per graduate will be allowed in the parking lot, Reasoner said. Cars must be street legal and able to fit into one parking spot, so no tractors, limos, semi-trucks, RVs or motorcycles will be permitted.

Students will be greeted as they turn left into the lot and handed a graduation carnation.

If the senior has a designated parking spot, they will park there. All other students should begin to fill in parking spots beginning with those on the east end of the lot and filling in every spot to the west. Vehicles should be facing east toward Community Drive. School staff and law enforcement will be on site to assist with parking.

Everyone must remain in their vehicles throughout the ceremony, Reasoner said.

The ceremony will be broadcast live on radio station 92.7 FM NASH ICON at 2:30 p.m. It will include all of the traditional graduation moments, including student speeches, music, calling of the names of the graduates and the tassel ceremony.

“It should be just as you would experience if you were to be sitting in Lloyd Scott Gymnasium surrounded by your friends and family,” Reasoner said.

One major difference is students will not receive their diplomas during the ceremony.

“Diplomas will be mailed home to graduates the week following graduation,” Reasoner said.

Following the ceremony, at around 3:30 p.m., vehicles will be released from the parking lot, one by one and row by row, for a recessional parade led by Seymour Fire and Police departments.

Upon exiting the parking lot, graduates will turn north (left) onto Community Drive, turn east (right) onto Fifth Street and turn south (right) onto Chestnut Street. They will continue through the downtown and turn west (right) onto Second Street and back to Community Drive.

Family and friends along with the public may park anywhere along the parade route to watch the procession, but should practice social distancing, Reasoner said.