Surveys were sent to families of high school seniors in the Williamson County Schools district Friday morning to gauge what parents and students would like to possibly do as a way of celebrating graduation.

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to Gov. Bill Lee’s recommendation that all school districts in the state close for the remainder of the school year, and both WCS and Franklin Special School District have complied. Of course, the pandemic has also interrupted what is traditionally graduation ceremonies in late May at various venues throughout the Greater Nashville area. 

District officials took up the matter at Thursday night’s Board of Education work session, as Superintendent Jason Golden and Leigh Webb, assistant superintendent for Secondary Education, discussed various options.

“We know our students are hurting, and we have not stopped thinking and not stopped talking about how we can support and recognize our students,” Webb said through the Zoom meeting.

“As far as graduations are concerned, what our principals are hearing is, if we can have any kind of live ceremony where our students walk across the stage and accept a diploma that they have spent their educational careers earning up to this point, they want to do that. We want to help them make that happen.”

Each of the 10 high school principals emailed the short survey to their school’s families, asking them to have it completed by the end of the day Monday. The survey asked if the family has a preference for: 

  • July face-to-face graduation (date to be determined)
  • May virtual graduation (on assigned graduation date)
  • Other (Please add your suggestion below.)

It also asked for any additional feedback a family might have.

“We’re planning how to digitally celebrate [the seniors] regardless, but we’re also asking families if we held a late-summer graduation if that would be their preference," Webb said. "Who knows what will happen in the world between now and July, but if it’s possible to have a venue where families and students can come and extend their hand and accept that diploma from their principal, we want to give them the opportunity to do so.”

Eighth graders and fifth graders are also having graduations of sorts as they make the transitions to high school and middle school, respectively. 

“We’ve got some surprises. Our PTO’s are working closely with us for those fifth graders that will be leaving elementary school,” said Denise Goodwin, assistant superintendent for Elementary Education.

“We’ve talked about closure, which is for the teachers as well as the students. Maybe when we get back to a brick-and-mortar school, there can be a reunification of sorts where students can go back and visit with last year’s teachers and spend some time with last year’s friends. We’re looking at the gamut of what we can do to have a sweet closeout where every student felt valued and loved and every teacher gets to express that to their students. Nothing is definitive yet, but we are working on it.”

Thursday night’s work session can be viewed here. The school board will meet again by Zoom and through live-streaming Monday at 6:30 p.m.

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