For graduating seniors across the country, COVID-19 (coronavirus) has forced necessary modifications or cancellation of some annual high school milestones. Graduation is the most important academic rite of passage for students who have worked so hard to complete a 12-year education and it is a meaningful moment for families as well, having supported these efforts through their academic journey. This is especially true for those students who are the first in their families to graduate and others who have overcome personal challenges.
“The Class of 2020, like those who came before them, and those who will follow, deserve every bit of pomp and circumstance a traditional commencement provides,” said Superintendent Alberto M. Carvalho. “While we are not able to provide that immediately, we will do all we can to ensure these graduating seniors feel honored, not only by their teachers, classmates, and loved ones, but by the entire community.”
In an effort to ensure all voices were heard during the planning stages of the celebration for the Class of 2020, Miami-Dade County Public Schools (M-DCPS) held virtual meetings with senior class representatives from every high school to brainstorm and determine the best way to address commencement, considering the social distancing restrictions that currently prevent large, in-person gatherings. Based on feedback from those meetings, as well as input from various stakeholders including community members and parents, District staff has developed a plan to conduct ceremonies that honor graduates, while adhering to CDC guidelines and recommendations.
Graduations will take place in a blended format comprised of a virtual graduation and senior recognition activities that will occur in late summer or winter. The virtual graduation ceremonies will be streamed online, and will include students as well as school, region and District administrators, and Board Members. Parents and guests will have the opportunity to remotely attend the virtual graduation ceremonies.
The District plans to follow the published graduation ceremony schedule, from May 26 through June 3. Please note, this window may be extended based on the finalization of the virtual platform that will be utilized. Each graduating senior’s picture will be displayed as their name is called during the virual ceremonies. All Class of 2020 senior recognition activities will be planned on a school-site level.
M-DCPS has also developed a dynamic marketing and media campaign to encourage the entire community to come together to celebrate graduates, culminating in a districtwide Senior Recognition Day on May 20.
Students and their familes, M-DCPS employees, community and media partners, and the public- at-large are encouraged to support the campaign and the culminating day by using social media, putting together their own recognition opportunities, airing the M-DCPS Senior Recognition public service announcement, and featuring Class of 2020 graduates in news stories on air, online, and in print publications.
To assist in this effort, the District will highlight seniors for the next five weeks, following the schedule below:
· Week of April 27 – May 1: College and athletic scholarships recipients
· Week of May 4 – 8: Military and first-generation grads or other outstanding achievements, including exemplary community service
· Week of May 11 – 15: Top 10 percent of graduates and Silver Knight award nominees
· Monday, May 18 & Tuesday, May 19 – Recognition of all seniors
· Wednesday, May 20 – Community-wide Senior Recognition Day
On May 20, schools will be encouraged to post “Class of 2020” photos and students will be asked to share videos of special memories on social media platforms using the following hashtags:
The community is also invited to express congratulations via social media utilizing these hashtags to collectively acknowledge the accomplishments of the Class of 2020.