Chesterfield schools to offer 2 graduation ceremonies to Class of 2020

Chesterfield County

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — Chesterfield County Public Schools Superintendent Merv Daugherty announced Tuesday that the school district will offer two opportunities to honor the Class of 2020, dashing hopes of a possible in-person graduation in August.

In a message sent out to Chesterfield families, Daugherty said school leaders were looking to hold a graduation in early August with students but that “it no longer seems feasible to pin our hopes on that based on projected timelines for the phased reopening of Virginia.”

“It pains the School Board and me that current extraordinary circumstances caused by COVID-19 prevent us this year from giving these 4,500 young people the traditional commencement ceremony we are accustomed to providing,” Daugherty wrote.

Chesterfield schools will have two different types of ceremonies within the next month: one private and one public.

The private graduation opportunity will allow the county’s Class of 2020 to have up to five family members for a personal ceremony, which will be held in their school’s auditorium. Each high school will have to schedule the ceremony with individual families interested.

“Dressed in a cap and gown, each graduate will hear their name called, walk across the stage to receive their diploma and be congratulated by the school’s principal,” Daugherty’s letter explained. “Families may take photographs and/or video of this individual student opportunity. A separate area also will be established outside of the auditorium for family photos.”

The second graduation opportunity will be virtual, with each school hosting their own ceremony. The virtual graduation, which will remarks from students, principals and other school leaders, will air on the school division’s TV channels and streamed online.

“Each school’s valedictorian and salutatorian will be acknowledged, as will other senior class accomplishments. Following the remarks, each member of the Class of 2020 will be recognized via their senior portrait and the calling of their name during the ‘presentation of diplomas,'” the message from Daugherty continued.

Principals for each high school will provide additional information to families regarding both opportunities.

“Without a doubt, the Class of 2020 made many unique, positive contributions during the years while attending our schools,” Daugherty wrote. “The excellence they demonstrated in classrooms, in the arts, in athletics, in student leadership, and through service projects will have a lasting impact on our school division, community and beyond.”

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