FARMINGTON — Davis School District will offer a “diploma walk” option to graduating seniors and their families, since it was not possible to hold in-person graduation ceremonies this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The district’s graduation will remain a virtual event, streamed via YouTube, and likely other platforms, at 6 p.m. May 26. When students return their caps and gowns after the virtual graduation, they will have the opportunity to walk across the school stage wearing the cap and gown while the traditional “Pomp and Circumstance” song plays and their name is read. They will also receive a diploma and have a photo taken, according to Dan Linford, secondary director for the district, who described the district’s general plan to board members at their Tuesday meeting.
“Our secret dream is that a masked, gloved principal might be able to hand (the diploma) to them,” Linford told board members. “We think the historical value of a picture like that would be really incredible — because I don’t know if their grandchildren will believe them when they tell this story.”
The diploma walks would be held over two to three days, perhaps more for the largest schools, in order to allow for social distancing, spokesperson Chris Williams told the Standard-Examiner. Plans are being made and communicated at the school level, Linford told the board.
These diploma walks are not a graduation, as graduation is traditionally an event that recognizes all graduates, where board members accept and recognize them, Lindford told the board.
Board members expressed support for the district’s move to offer the diploma walks, mentioning feedback they’d received from constituents asking for more recognition of the graduates.
District personnel describe the decision to offer the diploma walks as the result of an ongoing, evolving discussion among district staff. Linford told the board that he and high school principals have been discussing the possibility of offering something like the diploma walk for the past few weeks, pending the development of health department guidelines.
The move is also inspired, in part, by the success of district high schools’ cap and gown pickup days, Williams said.
This past week and part of the week before, high schools in the district distributed caps and gowns for pickup so that students could have them for a period of time and take photos to be featured in the virtual graduations.
In an effort to recognize students and acknowledge the loss many felt at not having a traditional graduation, school staff put their own special touches on the pickup process — handing out treats and decking out the pickup areas in pictures and balloons, all while practicing social distancing and wearing masks. Teachers at Clearfield High School even wore caps and gowns to add the feel of graduation to what otherwise would be a simple errand.
Students and teachers alike described the pickup process as a meaningful experience that helped offset the loss of an in-person event, as previously reported by the Standard-Examiner.
The diploma walk takes a similar approach, turning a regularly required logistical item — the collection of rented caps and gowns from graduates — into a brief opportunity for special recognition.
This kind of brief recognition is exactly what some parents in Weber School District are hoping for. That district’s current plan is for high schools to hold virtual graduations and follow-up celebrations during the summer if health guidelines permit, as previously reported by the Standard-Examiner.
Shauna Havey, mother of Roy High senior Mason Havey, said that a diploma walk would satisfy many parents and students who are hoping for a special acknowledgement of an important rite of passage. She says Weber district graduates also have to return their caps and gowns, which would be a perfect opportunity.
“We would like the kids to have somewhere to go in their cap and gown,” Havey said. “They’ve all paid for these caps and gowns, and they don’t have anywhere to wear them to.”