Announced on the Howard County Public School System website:
Beginning Thursday, June 4, 2020, every Howard County Public School System (HCPSS) high school and the Cedar Lane School will hold a virtual graduation. Understanding that no celebration can replicate a traditional, in-person celebration, HCPSS and high school principals wanted to find a way to recognize and celebrate each one of our 2020 graduating seniors. In-person celebrations will be planned by schools at a later date.
Virtual graduations will be pre-recorded but closely aligned to the programs that were already planned to include student speeches, student performances, commencement remarks by the county executive, recognition of the graduates by the superintendent, awarding of diplomas by a Board member, and the turning of tassels. Virtual graduations will be pre-recorded due to concerns with online connection stability, to prevent unwelcomed interruptions by people looking to digitally interrupt the special celebration, and to eliminate the risk of inappropriate words or actions being broadcast live.
To highlight individual graduates during the awarding of the diplomas segment of the program, each senior is encouraged to create a short video (5-10 seconds) and submit it based on instructions that will be provided by schools. Students should wear their caps and gowns during this recording. If a student does not provide a video, their graduation picture will be shown instead. Each student’s video (no audio) or picture will be featured on the screen as their name is announced by a staff member.
Virtual graduations will be streamed on a staggered schedule during the graduation window of June 4-9 so that students, families, and community members can view multiple ceremonies as they are presented if they wish to do so while also taking into consideration that there are families with seniors in more than one school. Additionally, graduations will be able to be viewed on the HCPSS television channels (Verizon 42 & Comcast 95 in Howard County) based on a schedule that will be provided closer to the graduation dates.
Information on virtual graduations can be found online, and is listed below.
- 10 a.m., Mt. Hebron High School
- 2 p.m., River Hill High School
- 6 p.m., Centennial High School
- 9 a.m., Oakland Mills High School
- 12 p.m., Wilde Lake High School
- 3 p.m., Marriotts Ridge High School
- 9 a.m., Cedar Lane School
- 12 p.m., Reservoir High School
- 3 p.m., Hammond High School
- 6 p.m., Atholton High School
- 10 a.m., Glenelg High School
- 2 p.m., Long Reach High School
- 6 p.m., Howard High School
HCPSS will stream each graduation online. Recorded videos will be available online soon after each ceremony’s end. HCPSS also will broadcast the celebrations on HCPSS TV cable channels 42 (Verizon) and 95 (Comcast). DVD services were discontinued last year. All virtual graduations will remain online for the foreseeable future.
Diploma distribution will occur at the end of May. Each school will provide dates for seniors to return any additional items owned by the school/school system and receive their diploma and diploma cover. Students may continue to use HCPSS Chromebooks for any remaining school work over the summer, and will be provided with their diploma once the device has been returned.
Distribution of Graduation Materials
Schools are coordinating a schedule and guidelines regarding the distribution of graduation materials and collection of school property. Beginning on Thursday, May 14, each school will be providing families with a detailed schedule on when parents and/or graduating seniors are assigned to pick up their graduation materials and return school materials. Safety is our most important concern during this time, so it is important to maintain social distancing protocols, including complying with the assigned schedule to avoid large gatherings. In addition, all students and family members should wear masks, and all staff involved in this process will be wearing masks and gloves. Schools will provide directions for students/parents who are unable to come at their assigned time.
Schools will have a traffic pattern designated for their school with several stations set-up to check in, distribute caps, gowns, and other graduation materials, collect textbooks and Chromebooks, and collect other school materials such as athletic equipment and music instruments. Additionally, students will have an opportunity to record a brief 5-10 second video in their cap and gown to be included in the virtual graduation.
Schools will send details and additional information.