D-49 announces graduation ceremony plans for late June

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Published: May. 4, 2020 at 5:07 PM MDT
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School District 49 announced plans for graduation ceremonies honoring the seniors at Vista Ridge, Sand Creek and Falcon high schools.

They are expected to be student-only ceremonies while practicing social distancing guidelines. There is a small possibility guests could attend, but that depends on any major changes tied to the COVID-19 response from now until late June.

All three graduation ceremonies are scheduled to start at 9 a.m. at UCHealth Park on the following dates:

June 25: Vista Ridge High School

June 26: Sand Creek High School

June 27: Falcon High School

All of the ceremonies are expected to be live-streamed.

The following was posted to District 49's website:

Dear D49 Families, Thank you for participating in two community forums about graduation planning. More than 2,700 of you have engaged with our plans, contributing more than 30,000 thoughts and ratings. Thank you! Your main priorities were to hold a traditional (vs. virtual or drive-in) ceremony, in an outdoor venue, with family members attending. We are eager to meet the first two priorities, and grieved that we will almost certainly not be able to support an audience of family members or other in-person guests at the ceremony. Today we will submit our general graduation plan to El Paso County Public Health. The county will approve plans based on guidelines that have been cleared by the health department, local hospitals, the county commissioners, and finally, the state. As a district we are doing our best to uphold our community’s preferences while complying with state and county guidelines. Although the desire for family attendance at graduation is clear, we cannot, as a public entity, defy the governor’s order, or put our commencements at risk of disapproval or disruption. Based on the county’s guidance, we are moving forward to host student only graduation ceremonies for our large, comprehensive high schools on June 25, 26, and 27. The principals have agreed to celebrate Vista Ridge graduates on Thursday, June 25, Sand Creek graduates on Friday, June 26, and Falcon graduates on Saturday, June 27—all ceremonies begin at 9:00 a.m., with detailed instructions for seniors to follow. By scheduling in late June, we are preserving the very slight possibility that Governor Polis will amend his order to permit guests at graduations. No leader in any official capacity has even hinted that he will do so, and many officials have stated explicitly that he will not. But we have a plan for safe guest participation should that guidance change. A team from all D49 high schools is finalizing detailed plans for graduation ceremonies. We are pleased to be making arrangements with our local partners at UCHealth Park and the Rocky Mountain Vibes to host our ceremonies at their complex, which has capacity to host all graduates while still practicing safe social distancing. The venue also has excellent audio-visual equipment, a massive jumbotron to feature senior pictures, and excellent capacity for high-quality, live-streaming video. Thank you for engaging with us on this difficult decision. We understand that many will be disappointed by our plans, and we empathize especially with the class of 2020. For graduates who choose not to attend, for any reason, we will still honor and recognize you in the presence of your classmates and the online audience. We will do our best to preserve the moments that matter by ensuring that every graduate has an opportunity to cross a stage and receive a diploma, with cheers and respect from us all. For the D49 Team, with respect and regards, Peter Hilts Chief Education Officer