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Each PCHS graduate will receive six tickets for guests

Pierce County High School graduation ceremony remains on track for Friday, July 17, but social distancing will be in effect and the number of guests in attendance will be limited as well.

The ceremony is planned for 8 p.m. that Friday at Bear Stadium.

School officials announced last week each graduate will be limited to six guests apiece. Seniors will receive six tickets for admission to the ceremony at the end of graduation practice Friday morning, July 17.  

Governor Brian Kemp extended social distancing guidelines limiting gatherings of 50 or more people unless they are six feet apart. Implementing the six ticket limit will help to meet those requirements.

The graduation guidelines were announced at last week’s school board meeting which was moved up a week due to the Independence Day holiday.

“We are sorry we have to do this, but we can’t open the ceremony to everyone safely based on the current guidelines,” said School superintendent Dara Bennett.

First district school board member Jack Saussy sought to head off any complaints about the changes to the graduation ceremony.

“We are very fortunate to be having a ceremony at all,” he said. “I realize there is disappointment and some anger, but these are very unusual times and very unusual circumstances,” Saussy said.

PCHS principal Kelly Murray agreed.

“Unfortunately, social distancing requirements make the attendance limits necessary,” said Murray.

Murray said each graduate’s six guests will be asked to sit together during the ceremony and must adhere to the six foot distance guidelines.

“Everyone who enters the stadium must have a ticket,” the principal said. “Lost or stolen tickets will not be replaced.”

Bennett also announced the ceremony will be live-streamed.

The live stream broadcast will be done to help accommodate those unable to attend and those who fall under the Governor’s Executive Order (65 or older, anyone with pre-existing health conditions).   

School officials announced the new unprecedented summer date for the ceremony last month. The ceremony was postponed from its original date of May 22 due to the threat posed by COVID-19 (coronavirus). The Class of 2020 will be the first class to graduate from the new high school.

In case of inclement weather, the graduation exercises will be moved to 9 a.m. Saturday, July 18, also at the stadium.

Graduation coach Robbie Spires has sent out information about practices to senior class members via Remind.

There will be one mandatory practice at 8 a.m. Friday, July 17. Seniors are to report for the graduation ceremony by 6:30 p.m. Friday, July 17. Students who do not participate in the practice will not participate in the ceremony.

Junior ushers will direct you to your seat on the field before practice.  

Shorts may be worn to practice as long as they adhere to the student dress code. Caps and gowns are not required at practice.

Seniors may park in the main parking lot closest to the football field entrance.

Students may bring a clear bottle of water to practice.

The practice scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Thursday, July 16, has been canceled.

Seniors will report to the PCHS auditorium no later than 6:30 p.m. Friday, July 17, and will be dressed in cap and gown and attire as directed in the original graduation handout.

The stadium will be opened to guests at 6:30 p.m.  No one will be allowed into the stadium once the ceremony has begun.  Once guests enter the stadium, they are asked to please find their socially-distanced seating group.  Guests need to stay with their group and remain seated during the ceremony.

Per Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines, masks are recommended but not required.  Masks made of material presenting crude or inflammatory content will not be allowed.

Family and friends will not be dismissed until all graduates have exited the stadium.  Please adhere to social distancing guidelines as you exit the stadium.  Guests and/or graduates will not be allowed back onto the field following the conclusion of the ceremony.