Area schools try to finalize graduation plans

NEW Media Staff

The closure of all K-12 schools through the end of the academic year has required high schools to rethink one of their biggest events of the year — graduation.

Most area schools schedule their gradations at the end of May or early June, but the coronavirus pandemic has already caused the cancellation of the in-person ceremonies for those times. As a result, administrators, staff and some students came together to decide whether to delay graduation to later in the summer, hold ceremonies via the internet or some other alternative.

Wittenberg-Birnamwood High School plans to hold an in-person ceremony July 24, according to Superintendent Garrett Rogowski. He noted it would all depend on what health guidelines are still in place at the time. If the schools aren’t allowed to provide the usual pomp and circumstance, “we will adjust and provide an alternative option for that same evening,” Rogowski said.

Marion High School is already planning to have an alternative ceremony — keeping its May 22 graduation date intact, but moving the whole ceremony online, according to school principal Dan Breitrick. The ceremony, scheduled to begin at 7 p.m., will be on the website

Bonduel High School also plans to have a virtual ceremony May 22, but the school is going one step further and showing the ceremony at drive-in theater for Shawano Cinema, 1494 E. Green Bay St., Shawano.

Shawano Community High School officials are still finalizing details on when to hold graduation, but principal Scott Zwirschitz told the Shawano School Board on May 4 that the school is considering dates in August to hold a traditional ceremony.

Menominee Indian High School also plans to have an August traditional ceremony, scheduled for Aug. 5, according to principal Chuck Raasch.

Clintonville High School plans to hold a traditional graduation ceremony at 2 p.m. Aug. 2, provided the state loosens up social distancing rules. Kelly Zeinert, the school’s principal, said the in-person ceremony was the top choice for the majority of 80 families that returned a survey seeking input.

Oconto Falls High School Principal Jake Beschta said several committees are working on various ideas to honor students with virtual ceremonies to honor their scholarships and other awards as well as to recognize their graduation. Those ceremonies are usually done in person. An in-person commencement exercise is still possible, but “the questions are when and with what restrictions,” Beschta said.

Lena School District Superintendent Ben Pytleski said because of the shutdown, any in-person graduation ceremony would have to be held in July at the earliest, and the district hopes to set a date soon.

“We have every intention to honor our Class of 2020 with a full commencement ceremony,” Pytleski said.

Tigerton High School plans to hold its graduation in mid-July.

Suring High School is organizing a senior car parade through the village at 1 p.m. May 23, which is graduation day for the Class of 2020. The district is also hoping to hold a formal graduation ceremony during the summer.

Bowler High School wants to do an in-person graduation ceremony, according to principal Kim Ninabuck, but has not set a date yet. There are some plans to run a virtual recognition of students on the school’s social media.

Gillett School District officials were also gathering more information about their options and are hoping to have announcements soon.

Gresham Community School is currently utilizing social media to do a senior spotlight on all of its graduating seniors, according to high school principal Benjamin Henninger. A date has not been set for graduation, but officials are still planning for one, “although this possibility is looking increasingly unlikely at this time,” Henninger said.