Rockwood Superintendent Dr. Mark Miles unveiled graduation plans for seniors in the district's four high schools.
"We have been considering what end-of-the-year traditions and celebrations will look like in light of social distancing guidelines," said Miles. "To preserve graduation ceremonies for each of our high schools in Rockwood, we are moving those ceremonies from Chaifetz Arena in mid-May to the POWERplex STL, formerly known as the St. Louis Mills Mall in Hazelwood, in early June."
Graduates' families will be able to observe the ceremonies on large screens from the air-conditioned comfort of their vehicles, similar to a drive-in theater. During the graduation ceremonies, students will walk across the stage to accept diplomas while observing social distancing guidelines. Rockwood high school principals and district administrators have evaluated the safety measures, social-distancing regulations, and St. Louis County Department of Public Health recommendations for this commencement ceremony. This is a unique, creative approach to provide our seniors with a memorable graduation ceremony while adhering to health and safety guidelines.
Here is the updated schedule for Rockwood high school graduations, to be held at POWERplex STL.
- Monday, June 1, 7 p.m. Marquette High
- Tuesday, June 2, 7 p.m. Eureka High
- Wednesday, June 3, 7 p.m. Rockwood Summit High
- Thursday, June 4, 7 p.m. Lafayette High
POWERplex STL is located at 5555 St. Louis Mills Blvd., Hazelwood, MO 63042.
"This innovative approach, endorsed by the St. Louis County Department of Public Health, provides proper social distancing and an actual graduation ceremony for our graduates and their families," said Miles. "Rockwood is pleased to be one of the first school districts participating. This eliminates the risk of postponing indoor graduation ceremonies until June or July, and then not being able to hold them at all."
ROCKWOOD COMMENCEMENT CEREMONIES 2020 FAQs
Q. How will the students be kept safe during pre-ceremony, graduation, and post-ceremony?
A. All students will be given masks at check-in and will receive training upon arrival as to how to stay socially distant and follow all health and safety guidelines. The St. Louis County Department of Public Health has worked with the POWERplex STL organizers to keep students in groups acceptable per guidelines, maintaining social distance (six feet a part) during the pre-service and ceremony seating. The audience will be protected by staying in their vehicles for the duration of the ceremony.
Q. How will parents be able to hear the ceremony if they are seated in their cars?
A. The entire commencement ceremony will be broadcast over an FM transmitter to each car radio. You can control the volume of the HD signal and turn it up when your son or daughter crosses the stage.
Q. How will all guests be able to see the ceremony?
A. The main 40 x 40-foot stage will be flanked by two 30-foot Jumbotrons. In addition, broadcast-quality cameras will be used to record the event, projecting high definition LED boards that are elevated and visible from anywhere on the parking lot. There are also two 16-foot video screens flanking the sides of the parking field for additional viewing opportunities.
Q. If we have elderly or medically compromised family members who are not able to attend because of health concerns, how can they participate and enjoy the ceremony?
A. The entire ceremony will be carried live through an on-line video portal for a $10 fee. We will be giving out this link to each family in advance of the ceremony. The graduation will also be available in its entirety on-demand at this link as well for later viewing.
Q. Can I get out of my car to come take a picture of my son or daughter crossing the stage and receiving his/her diploma?
A No. We ask that you respect the social-distancing guidelines for your protection and the protection of others. We will have professional videographers and photographers capturing pictures and video of the graduates. These will be made available to all graduates.
Q. Can I get out of my car and watch from the parking lot?
A. No. Again, the Health Department recommends that all spectators stay in their vehicles unless you need to use the restroom (located on the parking lot perimeter). It is critical that all health guidelines be followed for a safe graduation event. Rolling down windows or keeping your car running with air conditioning is permitted.
Q. Will there be any charge for parking or admission to graduation?
A. No. Each family will have a set number of vehicle passes assigned to them for graduation. Any oversize vehicles (large SUVs/vans) are permitted but will be placed on the perimeter of the parking field to give smaller cars clear sightlines to the stage and video boards.
Q. What time should we arrive?
A. Graduation will begin at 7:00 p.m.
- We recommend seniors ride with their parents/guardians.
- Seniors will need to arrive at 5:30 p.m.
- NOTE TO PARENTS/GUARDIANS: There are NO reserved parking spots. The parking lot will open at 5:30 p.m.
Q. Is there an inclement weather plan?
A. Yes, plans will be communicated should the need arise. We will be able to hold the ceremony if it is raining. However, if it is severe weather, the commencement ceremony will be postponed to the following week. Graduates do not need to bring an umbrella.
In the same video, Miles explained Rockwood is moving the annual ROSE Awards banquet, already postponed to Sunday, June 7, further back on the calendar to Sunday, September 13.
"This is an important event honoring district staff and community members," said Miles. "The entire heartwarming ROSE Awards Surprise Patrol video can be found on our district website and social media platforms."
Rockwood Summit, Lafayette, Marquette and Eureka high schools are also holding "Senior Salute Parades" on seniors' original graduation dates – May 18, 19, 20 and 21. Each high school will host a drive-through parade for staff and students to celebrate our graduates. Details will be provided by individual high schools.
Miles previously announced district administrators have been assigned to Rockwood Return-to-School Transition teams, which include Facilities-Transportation-Child Nutrition, Health and Wellness, Human Resources, Student-Staff Support, Academic Re-Entry, Logistics and Technology, Communication and Community Education.
These transition teams are actively collaborating with other staff members and local and regional health officials to identify best practices to answer a number of questions such as:
- What health screening procedures will be in place to support the health of students and staff?
- What regular routines will be in place such as sanitation and hand washing?
- What personal protective equipment will be needed for our students and staff?
- What guidelines will be in place for school bus transportation?
- What will food service look like in our schools?
- What social and emotional support will be needed for students and staff upon return to the regular school environment?
- If we are unable to return to our schools, how will the structure of remote learning be the same or different?
"These are simply a few of the many questions with which we are confronted," said Miles. "Our hope is to return to provide educational services in our school classrooms in the fall. While this remains our primary goal, as we shared with you last week, we will also be preparing contingency plans for continued remote learning."