Brownstown Central High School’s first nontraditional graduation ceremony is in the past, and now, the corporation is working toward the next school year.
During a recent board of trustees meeting, Tim Taylor thanked everyone involved in making graduation for the Class of 2020 a success after the seniors and the rest of the corporation had to do eLearning from mid-March to early May due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
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“It was a nontraditional ceremony, but I believe it was quite memorable,” Taylor said of the event that included a prerecorded ceremony and students driving through the school parking lot to pick up their diplomas and then parading around town for the community to show its support.
He praised Principal Joe Sheffer for helping organize the ceremony, Director of Technology Will Hubbard for helping create the prerecorded portion and doing other technology work, Brownstown Christian Church for allowing use of its recording facility and Dusty Deckard of Brownstown for his assistance.
Taylor also thanked school employee Tammie Baker, who operates her own photography business, Yellowdog Images, for capturing pictures of all of the graduates and making them available online at no cost.
“Congratulations to the Class of 2020,” Taylor said. “They endured a lot. They will always be a very special class and have the most memorable graduation ever, I believe. They were resilient in getting through this particular situation.”
The school board also offered positive comments about graduation.
“Thanks to everybody who helped with graduation,” Trustee Brian Wheeler said. “I think it went very well. I think a lot people were really pleased with what happened.”
Trustee Mary Lou Burcham said she heard a lot of positive comments about the ceremony.
“Having to step into the unknown of never having done that before, I thought it went off very well, and I just want to personally thank all of the people involved with it,” she said.
Vice President Gina Hackman said she thinks the parade should become a tradition.
“It was awesome. I enjoyed it, and I think the kids and parents loved the parade, so I have a feeling we might be doing that again,” she said. “Thanks everyone who worked on that. I know it wasn’t easy, and you pulled it off, so good job.”
Switching gears to the 2020-21 school year, Taylor said he is reviewing the Indiana Department of Education’s guidelines for reopening schools and preparing guidelines in hopes of returning to school in August.
He said school officials are meeting to try to get a plan established and consulting with attorneys at Church, Church, Hittle and Antrim. He also is meeting with other superintendents in the county and working with the Jackson County Health Department to determine a safe and appropriate opening for school.
“We don’t know if it’s going to be traditional, if it’s going to be hybrid or what it’s going to be,” Taylor said. “We could spend a lot of time trying to prepare right now or in the past and it could all change, so we’re moving forward. You think about when all of this started on March 13 and so many things changed through that. We’re going to be in the same process.”
He hopes in the coming weeks to have a better idea of the plan.
“I think in the next two to three weeks, we’ll have a pretty good idea where we’re at,” Taylor said.
Board President Scott Shade said there are a lot of challenges coming up with school starting.
“Hopefully, we’ll have some good guidelines here and get things moving,” he said. “Thanks to everybody for all of their efforts to get to where we’re at now. Man, it has been really crazy. It’s ever-changing, it’s fluid, but having a strong administration and teachers and staff that really have the best interests of everyone, we appreciate that.”