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District preparing for different kind of graduation

T-R photos by Lana Bradstream —Marshalltown High School Principal Jacque Wyant flips through the diplomas of members of the graduating class of 2020. The diplomas will be handed out one at a time as graduates will only be allowed to enter the Roundhouse at certain periods to allow for COVID-19 social distancing.

The Marshalltown High School Class of 2020 will have a different graduation ceremony on Sunday.

Principal Jacque Wyant said some of the 337 graduates have chosen not to participate due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which is the reason for the odd ceremony.

The graduation will not be open to the general public or to friends of the seniors, but only to graduates and their immediate families. They will not be sitting next to one another under the roof of the Roundhouse, but instead will wait in cars in the parking lot and gradually move in a social distanced line toward the stage.

School district staff members will be there to tell the graduates when they can go in the building, to remind them of social distancing, and to direct the family members to a specific area so they can witness the walk across the stage.

Everyone who goes into the Roundhouse will be expected to wear masks and the district will provide the students with special Marshalltown masks.

Masks will be provided to members of the Marshalltown High School Class of 2020 to wear during the graduation ceremony on Sunday.

After students get their diplomas and awards they earned, a picture will be taken and then they need to make way for the next person. Even though Superintendent Theron Schutte will be present, as will Wyant, there will not be the traditional handshakes provided.

“We are trying to make it like any other graduation,” Wyant said. “There will be empty stands but 45 staff members will be here to help the students along and to congratulate them. Those staff members have agreed to come in and work on that Sunday, help with the process and help people remain safe.”

To help provide that experience, the speeches traditionally provided by Schutte and Marshalltown Community School District Board President Bea Niblock will be recorded. Students will be able to view the speeches on their smart phones or tablets one hour before the 2 p.m. procession begins.

The student speech will be provided by senior Taylor Naughton, who was the only applicant. Wyant said in previous years, seniors would audition for the chance to be a graduation speaker. The higher number of applicants did not happen this year.

The procession will be live streamed through the KDAO radio station in Marshalltown so residents can witness the ceremony.

The blue graduation cap and gown of the Marshalltown High School Class of 2020 will grace the boys. Girls will wear the red caps and gowns.

Another change offered to students who are graduating is the opportunity to decorate their graduation caps.

“That is unusual,” Wyant said. “We don’t normally let them do that.”

Also, Bobcat Boulevard — stretching from the auditorium to Olive Street — will be closed to traffic. The principal said this is to protect everyone who will be walking across the street. She suggested drivers who normally drive that road find an alternate route that day.

Fortunately, Wyant said she knows graduates and families who are still planning celebrations afterward.

“I received some invitations,” she said. “Some of them are not until the middle of July or are being held outside, so they are being very cognizant.”

Also, graduation music will be provided in a different format. Normally, Wyant said the choir provides the songs and will do so again. However, the choir members took recordings of themselves singing individually and then the videos were compiled.

“This is definitely not going to be a traditional reception,” Wyant said. “We are in for a long day on Sunday.”

Contact Lana Bradstream at 641-753-6611 or lbradstream@timesrepublican.com.

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