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MHS recognizes seniors with special send-off

Photo by Amy Phelps Marietta High School teachers and staff, as well as the school mascot, were on hand to honor students at the Special Recognition on Sunday before the online graduation.

When it became apparent that a traditional high school graduation wasn’t going to happen, Marietta High School principal Chad Rinard and his staff sprung into action.

The virtual graduation released at 3 p.m. today on Facebook, on the original date and time slated for graduation, marking the commencement of the 214 graduates.

“We started looking at details for our graduation about four weeks prior to filming,” said Rinard. “We looked at regulations set forth by Gov. DeWine and our local health department. Once we looked at them, we were able to send a survey out to parents and senior students and were able to get about 250 response of input about what they would to see for graduation.”

He said the responses ranged from pushing the traditional graduation back to late summer to a couple of scenarios like what was held as a virtual graduation.

Rinard, assistant principal Chris Laumann, the graduation team and senior leaders as well as superintendent Will Hampton, met over Zoom to gather input of expectations, as well as met with seniors to lay out the plan.

“We value what the seniors think, they are mature adults, and will be great leaders someday,” Rinard said. “We wanted to get the pulse of the students.

We know they are hurting, the last 8 weeks have been rough. They are not getting to experience the rite of passage most get to experience.”

He said the seniors were appreciative of the new format.

Through an appointment scheduler, 170 students signed up for times to come to the school, as planned and approved by the health department. “We filmed last Thursday for 12 hours, Friday 6 hours and Saturday 12 hours,” said Rinard. The graduates were allowed up to four family members to attend. The students went on stage in the auditorium with the assistant principal and principal, having their name called, walking across the stage in cap and gown and getting their diploma.

But there were new touches that normally wouldn’t be in a live graduation. “We also had an emcee reading off the students’ awards, scholarships and accomplishments,” Rinard said. “The most rewarding thing was the personal connection with the graduates and family members.”

One or two family members were allowed to hand the diploma to their graduations. “We had hugs, cheers, special messages, even a salute to an Eagle Scout,” said Rinard. “One graduate brought her 3-week-old daughter up on stage with her, another brought his 3-month-old up. All of this was allowed because of the personal nature of the it (the virtual graduation.).”

On the Wednesday prior to filming, the valedictorian, salutatorian, principal and superintendent’s speeches were filmed. The band pre-recorded a song, as well as the choir.

From 1-3 p.m. at the high school the seniors were also invited for a special recognition.

“They wanted to be able to see some of the teaching staff. We wanted to at least give seniors a chance to see their teachers one last time,” said Rinard.

Seniors were invited to drive to the Colegate side of the campus with their parents and see their teachers. There was also a radio broadcast during the two hours, airing interviews with seniors. “Our goal was to have as many as possible drive up,” said Rinard. There was close to 100 percent of the teachers there as well.

Rinard remarked how the seniors have been helping during the COVID crisis. “Our students have been volunteering, doing free babysitting and delivering food. They are really making an impact on our community.”

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