D209 gets creative to honor Class Of 2020

Virtual celebration planned to make up for in-person ceremony

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By Michael Romain

Staff Reporter

The Proviso Township High School District 209 Class of 2020 will join students in districts across the state in becoming the first-ever class to go without an in-person graduation ceremony; instead, the district will air a virtual commencement video on May 24.

Earlier this month, Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced that his five-stage plan for reopening the state prohibits gatherings of more than 50 people until the last stage — which will only come about when there is a vaccine for COVID-19, the disease can be effectively treated, and/or shown to be significantly decreasing by the lack of new cases over a sustained period of time "through herd immunity or other factors."

In a board memo, D209 officials said the district "seeks to preserve as much of the commencement experience as possible, while adhering to the health and safety guidelines from the state of Illinois."

The district hired Fogarty Company to create a "customized website for each senior, that includes graduate accomplishments and videos from friends and family" at a cost of $10 per graduate, in addition to editing costs. The package also includes "a commencement video that is shareable and downloadable."

District officials said Fogarty "is able to deliver the finished product by May 24 as long as [the district] is able to upload the required content by the due dates." District officials distributed yard signs to D209 graduates that have been cropping up across Proviso Township.

In a one-on-one interview with Gov. Pritzker, state Rep. Emanuel "Chris" Welch (7th), the former board president of D209, asked the governor to send a few "parting words or a message" to graduates in D209 and across the state. (The video can be seen at https://youtu.be/QOeGSKNKlVI).

"I know this is very difficult for many who had expected to be going to proms and graduation parties, and to have a graduation that your parents and grandparents get to come to," Pritzker said. "But with all the difficulty you are going through, I think you're going to look back on this … and you'll be telling your kids and your grandchildren about how unusual your graduation was compared to theirs. I think it will end up being a story that will live with you and help shape you in a very positive way because it's often the challenges that help shape us."

District officials also created multiple videos in which board members, faculty, administrators and others congratulate the Class of 2020. All videos can be seen on the D209 YouTube channel at youtube.com/channel/UC10EemqsdWB_m17TQFqpDIQ.

Email: michael@oakpark.com

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