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LCPS to hold high school graduations week of June 1

Lenoir County Public Schools has announced plans to hold commencement exercises the week of June 1 for its five high schools that will include familiar elements of the schools’ traditional graduation ceremonies while still complying with state restrictions on public gatherings due to the coronavirus pandemic.

About 600 seniors are scheduled to receive diplomas from Kinston High School, Lenoir County Early College High School, Lenoir County Learning Academy, North Lenoir High School and South Lenoir High School.

While specifics of each ceremony will vary by school – and will follow as closely as possible the traditions that make each school’s commencement unique – the graduation exercises as planned the past several weeks by district administrators and high school principals will have these features in common:

--  They will be held on the school campus.

--  They will involve students in cap and gown receiving diplomas on stage before a limited number of ticketed guests of their choosing.

--  Students will have an official graduation photograph taken and guests will be allowed take pictures and record video.

--  Commencements will be videotaped for later television broadcast and posting on social media outlets.

Commencements are scheduled for Lenoir County Early College High School and Lenoir County Learning Academy on June 1, for Kinston High School on June 2-3, North Lenoir High School on June 3-4 and South Lenoir High School on June 4.

The high schools began rolling out more detailed information on commencements to seniors and parents on Friday.

“I want to thank our high school administrators, school counselors, teachers and other staff members who have worked very hard with district-level administrators over the last few weeks to plan the best possible graduation programs for our seniors,” Superintendent Brent Williams said.

“Certainly, we have faced many limitations and restrictions this year on what we are allowed to do in terms of planning and having our traditional commencement exercises. Even though we realize that some of what we always have done is not possible this year, we believe strongly that our seniors deserve all that we can give them in terms of an outstanding high school graduation program and that we should take every available opportunity and devote ourselves fully to the mission of making these graduation programs as close to what our LCPS high school seniors always have experienced as possible.” 

LCPS commencements typically draw crowds in the hundreds to watch graduating classes that can number as many as 200 students walk across a stage, shake hands with their principal and accept their diploma. Restrictions on crowd size, as well as social distancing and sanitation requirements, will make Class of 2020 graduations different.

If Phase 2 guidelines are in place in North Carolina the week of June 1, as is now anticipated, current restrictions on crowd size will be eased, but not sufficiently to allow for the usual graduation format. This year, both the number of graduates and the size of the audience allowed in a venue at one time have to be controlled.

These limits will require four of the five schools to hold several mini-graduation ceremonies, presenting diplomas to segments of the graduating class in a series of commencements that in the case of Kinston and North Lenoir high schools will take more than one day to complete.

Williams stressed that plans for graduation ceremonies could change if the easing of restrictions does not follow the predicted schedule. LCPS will work closely with state officials and the Lenoir County Heath Department to monitor developments and will follow their recommendations for safely holding graduation ceremonies, he said.

“We are very proud of the Class of 2020. The great positive potential of these talented young people absolutely is limitless. We are confident they will go far in life and will excel in all that they do,” he said. “Our entire school system family is looking forward to watching the Class of 2020 walk across the stage of graduation and into what we are confident will be a lifetime of success for these amazing seniors.”