School districts in Columbia County are preparing for Graduation 2021 with COVID-19 pandemic restrictions and guidelines in mind.
Clatskanie School District is planning an outdoor graduation at 2:30 p.m. June 5, at the high school football field.
“Our kids have been through 12 years of school and they have had a really tough year,” Clatskanie School District Superintendent Cathy Hurowitz said. “They deserve to have a graduation and a celebration.”
The district has established three graduation plans, depending on what the current pandemic-related county risk classifications are.
The first plan is based on Columbia County being at High Risk and will allow a maximum or 600 people on the field to attend the ceremony. That plan will be reevaluate on May 29 for a possible increase in attendance numbers or change in venue.
“If the county is at Extreme High Risk, as of May 29, Clatskanie will pattern the ceremonies after the 2020 drive-up graduation,” Clatskanie School District Director of Student Service and Innovations Jim Helman said. “Students will be scheduled to graduate throughout the day. It will be a fast turnaround if we have to decide in the last hour, so student speakers will be asked to videotape their speeches and decide if they will want a walking partner.”
If Columbia County is at Moderate Risk on June 5, the graduation will allow 1,000 people on the football field.
“We are hoping to hold the graduation outside to allow families to attend,” Hurowitz said. “We are really trying to maximize the celebration. We want to make sure we celebrate. No matter how we do it, it will be a celebration.”
Rainier Jr/Sr High School
Rainier Jr/Sr High School Principal Graden Blue said they expect approximately 50 seniors to graduate during the 7 p.m. June 5 event at the school’s football field, rain or shine. Other ceremonies include a senior car parade at 6 p.m. from the school through Rainier, senior awards at 7 p.m. May 27 and Baccalaureate at 7 p.m. May 23, all with pandemic-related social distancing.
Blue said Rainier has never deviated from the idea of having a near normal graduation for the high school seniors. Over the course of the year, the school district administrators’ discussions have been constantly steered in the direction of having as many people as possible attend the event while complying with mandates and guidelines.
“With that in mind, we have chosen to hold our graduation outside this year at the football stadium,” Blue said. “We have asked families to come prepared for whatever the weather presents to us. To assist in that we have also asked families to bring their own chairs so that they can distance as families.”
Families and students have prepared and looked forward, for at least 12 years, for their high school graduation, according to Blue.
“This is a major accomplishment for students and their hard work deserves to be recognized with this culminating event,” Blue said. “Students and families have worked closely with the school this year to support these students. This is a celebration of everyone’s hard work and commitment to getting through this unusual and difficult year. We have made it! Let’s celebrate that achievement!”
St. Helens High School
St. Helens High School (SHHS) graduation organizers are preparing for a drive-through ceremony similar to what was conducted in 2020 due to the pandemic. The 2021 SHHS graduation is set for noon Friday, June 11, at the Columbia County Courthouse Square in St. Helens.
The graduation organizers are encouraging graduates and their families to decorate their home’s front doors and their cars to honor and showcase the seniors time and activities at SHHS. A senior class and community cruise added to the ceremonies in 2020 is again scheduled for the 2021 graduation.
Scappoose High School
The Chief reached out to Scappoose School District officials for details about the Scappoose High School graduation. We had not received responses to our question by press time. A post on the high school Facebook page reads:
“We are currently working on graduation plans. Our hope is to be back to as normal a ceremony as possible (although we may have to issue tickets depending on state guidelines). What we know right now is the Graduation Commencement will be held on Saturday, June 5 at 1 p.m. Specific details to follow.”
Follow update details as they become available about the high school graduations at thechiefnews.com and in the Friday print editions of The Chief.