HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WMBF) – The Horry County School Board voted on Monday to allow in-person graduations for high school seniors.
The school board has discussed the issue for weeks after many students and parents were upset about the district holding virtual graduations due to the coronavirus.
“I’m happy we’re going to have a graduation and not a virtual graduation because virtual is nothing like in-person. It makes me feel accomplished like there’s an opening for my future," said Horry County Schools senior Michael Lambert.
The Horry County School Board said each high school principal will be able to decide what kind of graduation is best for their school, just as long as it follows the social distancing guidelines ordered by the governor.
“Tonight, the board voted to have in-person graduation ceremonies for the high schools and the program schools, leaving a lot of planning and logistics to the principals because they know their schools best. And they know the limitations they have best to have the ceremonies,” said Horry County Schools spokesperson, Lisa Bourcier.
One option discussed during the school board meeting would be an individual graduation ceremony for each student and their immediate family where they would be able to see their graduate walk across a stage.
Another option would be for the whole senior class to take part in a graduation ceremony that would be held on the football field, a gym or auditorium.
“The graduating class of 2020 should be able to graduate together and still maintain social distancing. Whatever the decision is, just know they’re doing it for our benefit and safety,” Lambert said.
As far as the number of guests for the ceremonies, Bourcier said it will be different for each school.
“It’s all different. Depending on the location of where the ceremony is held and depending on the class size, that will dictate the number of guest tickets,” Bourcier said.
Horry County School Board Chairman Ken Richardson said there were talks in the community about the school board taking too long to decide about graduation. But he said there were outside factors playing a big role with finalizing the safest decision.
“Things have been changing so rapidly. The governor, every week, sometimes twice a week, he’s lifting different restrictions,” Richardson said. “We’re just hoping by the time of graduation maybe he’s restricting enough we can get back to the traditional type of graduation.”
But no matter how long it took to make the decision to allow in-person graduation, Lambert had this to say about being able to walk across a stage in his cap and gown.
“It feels wonderful,” Lambert said.
HCS added that in the interest of safety for all staff and students, in-person graduation ceremonies are voluntary, and people aren’t required to attend if they don’t feel safe.