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Graduating senior AJ Miller

Graduation date set

By Michael Butler

Tallassee High School will have commencement exercises. Graduation ceremonies will take place at J. E. "Hot" O'Brien Stadium on Friday, May 29 at 8 p.m.

While students missed out on the end of the school year in the traditional classroom, principal Matt Coker and other Tallassee school officials were determined to offer seniors a chance to receive their diplomas and turn their tassels.

"It will be different. The goal was to make it as normal as we could," Coker stated. "The graduates will park separately on the practice field. We'll have them sitting in rows of eight. The students will be six feet apart facing the home side as usual. On the field it will look very similar."

Normally, there are 2,500 - 3,000 that attend graduation. Restrictions this year will limit each graduate to receive six tickets a piece for family members. The tickets are non-transferable.

There are 127 in Tallassee's 2020 class. Coker said that requires designating 762 seats, which is feasible in the home bleachers.

"Each family will get 10 feet. Families need to stay together. There will be stickers on the bleachers. We're able to get about 75 families on the bottom section. That leaves about 55 or so to be on the top."

Otherwise, the ceremony will be quite similar to traditional exercises.

"Normally I would hand the student the diploma. Mr. Shipman would move the tassel over. We will have the students walk across. They will get their diploma themselves. Mr. Shipman and I will stand behind the table and we'll have a kind of triangle picture for them.

"The faculty will be on the field in their normal seating arrangements. Mr. Glasscock has put a band together. It will be a smaller group. They will be on the field, but everybody will maintain social distancing."

Elmore County High School is having graduation at Burt-Haynie Field on May 20 at 7 p.m. Each senior will receive eight tickets. Reeltown will hold its exercise at Nix-Webster-O'Neal Stadium on Friday, May 22 at 7 p.m. There will be no stipulations for attendees.

Wetumpka High School will have its ceremony on May 19 at Hohenberg Field at 7 p.m. with a limit of four guests per graduate. The state's largest high school, Hoover, has 650 graduating seniors. Its graduation ceremony will be held at the Hoover Met on May 21. Seniors and staff at "Hoover U" will be required to wear masks.

Coker said there will be photo opportunities for Tallassee's graduation class but not at the ceremony on May 29.

"That Friday morning we'll have a practice. We're going to ask the graduates that morning to walk up in the stands a few at a time, find where their seats are and take pictures. We're not allowing anybody on the field before or after graduation."

Also, it is requested that families arrive together prior to graduation ceremonies.

"If there's six of you in your family, you need to come together with those six people. They'll walk together to their seats. We will have some ushers to help people find their seats."

Although masks are not required, they are recommended, superintendent Wade Shipman added.

"When you look at what's recommended by the public health director, we're looking at social distancing, hand washing and to wear a mask," Shipman pointed out. "We still strongly urge people to wear masks."

Graduation for those who can not attend will be available virtually with live video on Facebook.

"Two weeks ago, there was no chance of us having a graduation on the field," Coker said. "We were looking at all the other options. Things changed."