Two phase graduation planned for Meridian

Meridians foreign exchange student, senior Larou de Jong, will continue to study journalism at university after she returns to the Netherlands. I dont really know everything yet, but what I do know is that it is going to be pretty similar to the journalism program at Meridian, said de Jong.

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photo by Zoie Bowman

Zoie Bowman decorated her cap so she can wear it at her graduation. It represents the school she will attend after graduation, the University of Illinois at Springfield.

Due to the corona virus, there was a big question for all senior students of Meridian.  The school didn’t say anything about what was going to happen with graduation until today.

In an email the students and parents received, the principal addressed the reason for the long wait. There was fear from the principal and the school district about setting plans for graduation too soon. This would have the potential to raise everyone’s spirits, but then bring more heartache as new restrictions deem them impossible to fulfill.

Eric Hurelbrink, principal at Meridian, thinks the plan does exactly what is important from a graduation standpoint. It is the end mark of many years of school and the beginning of the next chapter for each student. His biggest fear with all of this is that we would miss this opportunity, for some, if waited too long.

“The most important part, to me, is each senior getting their name read, walking across and then receiving their diploma,” Hurelbrink said.

Meridian will still have a graduation, but because of the virus it will be different. All seniors will have the opportunity to come to the high school and receive their diploma as if they were in the actual graduation ceremony. Although the ceremony will take place, the  school, parents and students have to follow very specific guidelines. 

All 50 seniors are split up in three groups. Depending on what group the student is in, they will have their graduation on May 15, 16 or 17 and have to arrive at the school at a particular time. The student can only bring parents and siblings. Because of the guidelines, the diploma will not be handed to students by administration, but rather handed to them by their parents. 

Because of this unusual graduation, the school decided, if possible, to have an in-person ceremony on July 18 at 5 p.m. This means that the student can walk the ceremony stage one more time, but then with all of the students, families and friends. If this is not possible because of restrictions due to Covid-19, the ceremony will be live-streamed, so family and friends can still see their senior graduate. 

Taylor Pagel, a senior at Meridian, was about sure that Meridian was going to have a graduation. 

“I knew for a fact we were going to have graduation, because Mr. Hurelbrink is the best,” Pagel said.

She also said that Mr. Hurelbrink just wanted the students to feel like they had the best senior year ever. She is looking forward to getting her diploma and most importantly seeing people for the first time in forever.

Heather Crackel, also a senior at Meridian wasn’t really sure if graduation was going to happen, but she said that she is super glad they still decided to have one, even though it will be in July. She looks forward to getting her diploma handed  to her by her parents on her first graduation.

“My parents have been with me through this whole process and it’s a special thing,” Crackel said.

Hurelbrink would like to tell all the seniors and their parents that the school feels for them. Special moments of their senior year have been taken away. This is not how the school year was supposed to end, but it is the circumstance we live in. He hopes all will be supportive of this plan and see that, as a school, they are trying to do what they hope will provide that special moment seniors will remember while having to operate under some very specific restrictions that are beyond our control.