Tuesday, 19 May 2020 17:15

Richmond Senior graduates walk across stage in virtual ceremony

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Tiniqua Mykhalia Brown takes the stage during Monday afternoon's virtual graduation at Richmond Senior High School. See a video below the story. Tiniqua Mykhalia Brown takes the stage during Monday afternoon's virtual graduation at Richmond Senior High School. See a video below the story. William R. Toler - Richmond Observer

ROCKINGHAM — There was no “Pomp and Circumstance” playing as Richmond Senior High School graduates walked across the stage in the gymnasium Tuesday — but at least they still were able to walk, despite the circumstances.

School officials had to improvise as mass gathering restrictions from Gov. Roy Cooper are still in effect amid the current coronavirus pandemic.

The seniors lined up outside the school with a small number of family members in tow and had to have their temperatures checked before entering the building for a virtual graduation.

Face masks were required to enter the building, but graduates were allowed to take them off during their walk-through.

The groupings were kept spaced apart beyond the recommended social-distancing guidelines as they advanced through the hallway and into the gym.

The bleachers on the right were filled with yard signs featuring photos of each member of the Class of 2020.

Entering on the right side, the students started at one corner of the court’s perimeter, stopping in the center, then onto the perpendicular corner before turning to the left where they checked in near a hand-sanitizer station and gave their names to Assistant Principal Jacque Gregory, who led them to the stage and called out their names, where they walked up to stand near Principal Jim Butler for a photo by Photo Specialties.

While the students were on stage, their family members were moved to the Raider diamond at center court.

Just in front of the diamond, Robbie Singletary was set up with a camera to record the ceremony, scheduled to be available for viewing next month on the school’s website.

Graduates posed for another photo in front of a backdrop with the state and national flags after walking down from the stage.

The graduation began with the special needs students at 9:30 a.m., with students from other homerooms following until a two-hour lunch break and resumed at 1 p.m.

“This is the strangest graduation,” Butler said. “But in a lot of ways we hope it’ll be one of the most memorable ones.

Before leaving the stage, Butler told each student about a special event scheduled for June 12, though when talking to the RO, he said plans weren’t yet finalized.

“We’re just trying to find ways that we can reach out and make up for all the loss for this class and hopefully this is just one little piece,” he said. “(We’re) trying to make it as special as possible in a tough situation.”

Student reactions to the virtual graduation were mixed.

“I’m glad that we got to have one with all this going on,” said Miko Ellerbe. “I really appreciate it.”

Ellerbe plans to continue her education in the nursing program at Richmond Community College before transferring to UNC-Pembroke.

Karl-Heinz Dietrich wasn’t as thrilled with the setup.

“It kinda sucks, to be honest,” he said. “It is what it is. At least we got something.”

Dietrich will soon be shipping off for Army basic training at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.

Richmond Early College High School also started its virtual graduation ceremony Tuesday at Cole Auditorium. Both RSHS and REaCH will continue their ceremonies on Wednesday, with Thursday being a make-up day.

Ashley Chapel’s graduation was held May 11 — the day before the district’s graduation plan was announced in a note on its Facebook page.


Last modified on Tuesday, 19 May 2020 18:26