By WECT Staff | May 7, 2020 at 4:30 PM EDT – Updated May 12 at 11:07 PM
PENDER COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) – Student protests and parental input put pressure on Pender County Schools (PCS) to modify this year’s proposed graduation plan.
Pender county students were not happy with the proposed plan released by PCS on May 7 and rallied for changes to be made.
“I think they can wait to make a final decision because a virtual graduation isn’t sufficient for all the hard work that we put in for the past 13 years. If they at least wait, it will give us a better view how the phases play out. As long as there’s always an option for a later graduation where everyone can congregate and celebrate with the seniors, I will not participate in a virtual celebration,” said Brooke Pacheco, a student at Topsail High School.
“We could do six feet apart; we’ve done the math and we can be six feet apart if we do on the football field by June 12th,” said Topsail High School student, Maggie Smith.
Students voted to have a traditional graduation ceremony sometime after COVID-19 restrictions are lifted and to form task forces at schools with input from parents and students.
“Of course, graduation is an emotional time. It’s a milestone in a young person’s life. Even for our staff as well. We know the parents want to see them do it. But the staff members have spent a lot of time with them as well and want to see them do it. We all want them to be successful and graduate and celebrate with them,” said Dr. Steven Hill, Pender County Superintendent.
The initial plan was to give seniors the maximum traditional graduation experience possible while adhering to COVID-19 guidelines provided by the state.
Because of restrictions on large social gatherings imposed by Governor Roy Cooper, traditional graduation ceremonies were not expected to be feasible this year.
PCS reviewed guidelines provided by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services and collaborated with school nurses, school representatives, contractors and photographers to consider all the options.
After receiving feedback from parents, PCS has delayed the digital plan until May 22.
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