MHS students, administration eye virtual graduation ceremony for 2020

Board of education expected to hear proposal April 27


Members of the Class of 2020 and administrators at Mitchell High School are looking to hold a virtual graduation commencement ceremony in place of the traditional in-person event that usually concludes the high school journey for students in their final year of secondary education.

Joe Childs, principal of Mitchell High School, recently outlined the proposed plans for members of the media via a virtual conference call.

“We can all agree that we’re in a crummy situation. Not being able to assemble in a large group to celebrate the academic achievements and the conclusion of the 12th grade year has been extremely unfortunate,” Childs said. “Whatever the decision is for graduation, I’m hopeful that the entire class and ourselves can unit and do the best we can under the current situation.”

School districts around the state have moved to online classes for at least the remainder of the 2019-20 school year in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak. The pandemic has disrupted nearly every aspect of life and business, with government and medical officials urging people to not gather in large groups and practice social distancing to curb the spread of the virus.

Childs said discussions with senior class leadership and a poll of students revealed that the majority of students preferred moving forward with a virtual ceremony in May rather than postpone a live event for a later date due to the fact many students will find it harder to take part the longer any delay goes on.


“When we talked about a postponed commencement, we started to become fearful that we would have a situation where if we postponed to June or July or August that we could lose momentum and interest and that if we moved the date they would not be able to participate. They’ll either be gone for college, work or the military. So we had students who were not favorable about moving it past May,” Childs said.

Childs said he plans to bring a proposal for a virtual ceremony to the Mitchell Board of Education for their consideration at the April 27 meeting of the board. The board is expected to meet at 5 p.m. via virtual teleconference.

Childs said the virtual ceremony would incorporate as many traditional elements as possible into the program.

“If we put all this together, with the board’s approval, we would include student speeches and remarks from (district superintendent Joe) Graves and myself,” Childs said. “It would include all aspects of a typical graduation, it would just be a recording.”

Erik Kaufman joined the Mitchell Republic in July of 2019 as an education and features reporter. He grew up in Freeman, S.D., graduating from Freeman High School. He graduated from the University of South Dakota in 1999 with a major in English and a minor in computer science. He can be reached at
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