WEBER COUNTY — Graduating seniors in Weber School District will have more loved ones around them during their upcoming “graduation walk” ceremonies than originally envisioned.
Due to the state’s move to a yellow, low-risk status in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Weber School District has increased its guest and vehicle allowances for the “graduation walks” that will be held at high schools across the district, according to information shared by Lane Findlay, spokesperson for the district. When the district first announced May 11 that its high schools would be offering the walks, the state was at orange status.
These updates were sent to parents Tuesday morning, Findlay said in an email.
The walks will offer the chance for graduating seniors to wear their caps and gowns to their school, receive their diplomas and likely have a photo taken with an administrator, according to previous reporting from the Standard-Examiner. The walks are being offered in addition to virtual graduation ceremonies, which will be held at various times on Friday, May 29.
“It’s really going to be a unique experience for kids and their families to have their own personal graduation walk,” Findlay said. “I just think it’s going to be a neat experience and one that will certainly be very memorable.”
Now it’s a memorable experience that more will be able to share in.
When the district’s plan for graduation walks was first announced, only members of a senior’s household were permitted to accompany them, and the group had to travel in the same vehicle.
Now, graduates in the district will be able to bring eight to 10 immediate and extended family members with them to their walks. In addition, the guests are allowed to arrive in more than one vehicle, according to the information shared by Findlay. Masks are recommended and people are still asked not to congregate, Findlay said.
The change means that special arrangements will not need to be made if a graduating senior’s family is spread across different households, Findlay confirmed. Special arrangements would have been required under the previous plan.
In holding the walks, Northern Utah districts aimed to give graduates a better approximation of the traditional graduation ceremony, which parents had requested, according to reporting from the Standard-Examiner.
Jason Boggess, whose daughter, Kaityln Boggess, attends Weber High School in Weber School District, told the Standard-Examiner on an earlier occasion that he was grateful the district decided to offer the walks. But he said Tuesday that he’s still not convinced they’re as meaningful as a traditional ceremony.
“As much as they want to say this is ‘more meaningful,’ it’s not,” Jason Boggess said in a message. “You cannot replace the ceremonial experience of commencement and the graduation walk with a photo op and think that is even remotely going to be meaningful.”
Findlay says that there’s been a lot of work behind the scenes in order to pull off this year’s ceremonies.
“The traditional ceremony is by far the easiest,” Findlay said, referring to the different types of ceremonies that districts have brainstormed. “We have the event at Weber State and bring everyone there, and it’s over with in a couple of hours. ... This has been a tremendous amount of work to put together, not only the virtual graduation, but the graduation walks as well.”
Shauna Havey, another parent who advocated for the walks, is happy with the decision.
“I think the more people that can safely share in the graduation walks with the students, the better,” Havey said in a message. “I think this change will be especially helpful for children with more than one set of parents or close family that resides in different households. As for my family, we just continue to be so thankful these walks are taking place. It has made all the difference for us at this time.”