CORONAVIRUS

Linn-Mar announces mini-graduation ceremonies, 5 seniors at a time

520 from Class of 2020 will be honored over 4 days in May

Honey Sue Heater arranges gowns as she and Barb Benton (not pictured) on Tuesday prepare to distribute caps and gowns to
Honey Sue Heater arranges gowns as she and Barb Benton (not pictured) on Tuesday prepare to distribute caps and gowns to Linn-Mar High School seniors at the school stadium in Marion. The school will have a series of smaller class of 2020 commencement ceremonies over four days in May. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
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MARION — With traditional graduation quashed by the coronavirus pandemic, one Iowa high school will be celebrating its grads during mini ceremonies, five students at a time, over four days this month.

Administrators at Linn-Mar High School in Marion announced Tuesday their plans to have small groups of students return to the school, closed since March, in caps and gowns for a no-contact ceremony.

The school plans to hold more than 100 of the small events, splitting its 520 graduates among 15-minute ceremonies spread between May 21 and 24.

The plan, according to a letter from Principal Jeff Gustason to families, allows the Class of 2020 to still have “a special moment” — hearing their name called, walking onto a stage and receiving a diploma — in the midst of a pandemic that has turned high school seniors’ last year of school upside-down.

Most Linn-Mar seniors are finishing their high school coursework online this week.

“It is a milestone for each of you, and it represents a transition to the opportunities that await following high school,” Gustason said in a May 11 letter. “No matter how each of you may feel at this time, I do want a ‘moment’ for every one of you to feel pride and honor in your accomplishment as well as the feeling of pride exuding from those closest to you.”

Seniors picked up graduation caps, gowns, stoles and tassels from the high school stadium Monday and Tuesday.

The some 520 graduates will be split into groups alphabetically, and each will be allowed to bring four family members to graduation, preferably wearing face masks.

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The school will be recording the event for a Class of 2020 video, which will include recordings of student speakers — student council officers, the salutatorian and valedictorian — and footage of each student receiving a diploma.

Comments: (319) 398-8330; molly.duffy@thegazette.com

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