Merrillville High School and the Merrillville Community School Corporation hosted a drive-thru style graduation commencement on Monday June 15 through Thursday June 18. The event allowed students and family to stay safe and comfortable, but also provided aspects of a traditional commencement ceremony.
Graduates and family members were asked to enter one side of the campus at Merrillville High School, drive around to door M, and then accept their diplomas on a stage from a school administrator. There were also various photo opportunities they could receive from a professional photographer. The school will also host a virtual commencement on July 18, 2020.
The event was coordinated by Merrillville staff that included head principal Michael Krutz. Krutz said that the event has been planned for weeks and it was great to see it come together.
“We had a lot of planning go into this. We met as a high school administrativeteam, then worked in conjunction with the school board, central office, and students and parents. We met with everyone and came to a consensus that way,” said Krutz.
Krutz mentioned that they wanted to incorporate aspects of a traditional graduation that also allowed for a personalized feel for graduates and their families.
“We had to walk around the school to see what would work. This area has some architecture to it with the pillars and allows families and our professional photographers to have special photo opportunities,” said Krutz.
James Stamper, Assistant Principal of Merrillville High School, helped tocoordinate diplomas and kept everything running smoothly. He is helping to plan the virtual commencement as well, a service he and the entire administration are happy to provide students whose senior years were interrupted.
“The drive thru came out of a collective group ideas. I think the seniors were looking for closure and were ready to celebrate,” Stamper said.
“The best part of the ceremony is that the parents get to be a real intimate part of their graduate walking across the stage,” he continued. “The parents have been nothing but complimentary, and the Merrillville kids and families are incredibly grateful we could put something together like this.”
The virtual ceremony on July 18 will incorporate photos of the drive-thru commencement. It will allow students and families to gather and celebrate together.
“The virtual one will stream live on YouTube and our website to highlight the everything the seniors have been involved in,” Stamper said. “The speeches from the valedictorian, principals, and school board members will be featured in the virtual aspect of the commencement.”
Graduates’ names will be displayed on the billboard at the front of the building. It’s just another example of how Merrillville High School combined aspects of a traditional graduation ceremony with necessary safety and social distancing precautions, allowing for the spotlight to be on the Class of 2020.