In an effort to compensate for the loss of a traditional graduation ceremony, Derry Area High School faculty will be distributing yard signs to the Class of 2020 this morning, May 15.

Twenty-four teachers volunteered to deliver two yard signs to each graduating senior’s residence.

“They will go to each of their houses, putting the signs in their yards,” said Dave McCleary, a learning support teacher at Derry Area and class advisor. “Hopefully the kids will be home so they can see them and come out to say, ‘hello.’”

Each senior will receive two signs, including one with their picture and name. Additionally, each senior will be provided a bag of items to decorate their cars for the senior parade slated for Friday, May 22.

Teachers will be separated into groups of three, with each team taking on a different area of the school district to deliver signs. Teachers will drive in separate cars to ensure safe social distancing is observed.

McCleary is one of many Derry Area staff members who have been working hard to provide seniors with alternative graduation activities.

Debra Bushey and Brian Clawson are also class advisors who have been working with school officials to plan graduation activities.

McCleary said a graduation committee “with a number of people who are helping tremendously” has been instrumental in planning events for the senior class.

“It’s a large team effort,” he added.

School board member Sean Kemmerer solicited funds that covered the cost of the signs, according to McCleary.

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has spurred changes to traditional graduation ceremonies across the state. McCleary said that while there are things the school cannot do for the seniors this year, the staff is working hard to provide positive memories to the Class of 2020.

“We are trying to make it as wonderful as it can,” he said.

The district has scheduled a cafeteria senior send-off for Friday, May 22 beginning at 11 a.m. with a special meal provided.

Following the send-off, the senior parade will begin at 12:30 p.m., with local fire and police escort from the DAHS campus.

A route is to be shared on Derry Area School District Facebook, website and email.

Seniors and families should decorate cars before arriving on campus, and are being urged not to leave their vehicles.

Principal Casey Long told the Bulletin via email that many local businesses “will allow community members to park in their lots during the parade.”

Then, at 6 p.m. the virtual senior awards night will begin via Zoom.

The masters of ceremony, McCleary and Jeff Kelly, dean of students, will present awards.

The event has been pre-recorded and will be shared as a link prior to May 22.

Additionally, a drive-thru diploma distribution is scheduled from 5 to 8 p.m. May 29. Seniors and families will follow a drive-thru graduation map and only one carload per senior student will be permitted; participants are urged not to exit their vehicles. During the distribution, students will receive a diploma case, while diplomas will be mailed to homes after June 10. District officials said additional details about the diploma distribution will be shared at a later date and will be determined by the state’s social distancing guidelines.

June 1 is the last instructional day for seniors and June 1-5 will be spent preparing seniors for graduation, which includes: the collection of all district items and pickup of personal items; collection of textbooks and Chromebooks; turning in sports uniforms and band uniforms/instruments; reconciliation of any owed debts; seniors collecting all personal belongings; the distribution of three virtual graduation programs to each senior student, and medication pickup.

Phone signups will be available and exact protocols will be shared via email and a notify message in the near future, district officials said. Officials also noted that yearbooks will be distributed in the summer or fall, as the yearbook company has been shuttered because of coronavirus restrictions.

On June 10, a virtual graduation ceremony will commence at 6 p.m. held via Zoom. The graduation will be pre-recorded. A link will be shared prior to June 10.

District officials will provide directions to download the virtual graduation ceremony at a later time.

Universal cap throw will take place at seniors’ own residence at 8 p.m.

An in-person graduation date is scheduled for July 23 in the stadium or auditorium if possible, only if approval is provided by state government officials.

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