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Johnstown plans to honor Class of 2020

JOHNSTOWN — The Greater Johnstown School District is finding ways to continue high school senior traditions and graduation ceremony while keeping students and their families safe during the pandemic.

“We all know we cannot have the high school graduation ceremony traditionally experienced by Johnstown High School graduates, but our objective has been to plan the best experience we can for our students and families given the current situation,” said Interim Superintendent Karen Geelan.

The district plans to have its Class of 2020 graduation ceremony at the Ozoner 29 Drive-in theater on June 28 at 9 p.m. with hopes of having the traditional Independence Day-style right after.

A professionally-created video of the commencement speeches, a tribute to each senior, pictures and short video clips will be shown on the screen.

Geelan said every graduate will have a ticket to admit them in a vehicle and they can have as many family members they can fit in one vehicle.

“We’re doing our best to maintain as many traditions as we can,” Geelan said.

Events to be held for the high school seniors include:

∫ On June 13, a Senior Salute Caravan will be held at 1 p.m. Seniors will drive through Johnstown to the campus while teachers and staff wave to them while practicing social distance measures along the route.

∫ On June 25, a virtual awards assembly will be held at 6 p.m.

∫ June 25, at 7 p.m. a there will be a 26-minute tribute to seniors shown on the CW Network and streamed on CBS 6 website.

∫ On June 26, a virtual baccalaureate will be held at 6 p.m.

∫ On June 27 and June 28, the Class of 2020 will get to have their moment walking across Knox Field.

Seniors will be given an appointment to arrive in cap and gown regalia with up to six guests to have their pictures taken, hear their named called and walk across to receive their diploma and any scholarship or award, and can have their pictures taken at the “J” and the “Class of 2020” on the hill.

“Our whole purpose is to maintain social distancing, but, however, providing an opportunity for students to have their moment on Knox Field,

Geelan said. “That was very important to all them. It was also important to all of them to have their family members there.”

According to a release, Johnstown High School Principal Scott Hale held numerous meetings with various groups and surveyed the senior class to determine their priorities for graduation recognition.

“Why wouldn’t we want to know, rather than assume, what is most important to our seniors? Their priorities should drive our plans for their commencement exercises,” Hale said in a statement. “Meetings were held with teachers and parents, too. Students do not want to miss out on experiencing graduation on Knox Field, and 70 percent of the seniors responding to the survey indicated a strong desire to have their families present at graduation.”

There will be safety guidelines and details for each planned event, which will be sent out through the ParentSquare communication system and posted on the district website.

“We hope our Johnstown Schools community will extend the enthusiasm of our recent ‘Light the Night’ event and join us in celebrating our seniors throughout June,” Hale said.

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