Horry County Schools board approves options for in-person graduation

Grand Strand

CONWAY, SC (WBTW) – Horry County Schools will have in-person graduation ceremonies for all of its high schools.

The HCS board voted 8-3 in a virtual meeting Monday night to allow graduations in football stadiums, gyms or auditoriums.

“I hope it can be a situation where they’ve got more to remember than any graduating class we ever had because, gosh, I hope nobody has to go through this again,” said board chair Ken Richardson.

Principals can choose between two options. The first option is individual ceremonies for each student and family members, which was proposed last week by Carolina Forest High School students.

The other is a larger event for the entire class.

“All of us, including the principals, want to be flexible and not commit ourselves to one option today,” said Neil James, a board member representing Green Sea Floyds.

The commencements are voluntary for students and staff. The number of guests allowed will be based on state guidelines at the time of the ceremony. The state recommends only two guests per student.

Some board members say it’s important to make sure every senior is honored safely.

“There are some students who have immunity issues and depending on how we have it, those students will not be able to participate,” said Janet Graham, who represents Conway.

Last month, HCS announced seniors would have virtual graduations due to the coronavirus pandemic. More than 1,800 people signed a petition against that, so the district decided to study several options for in-person commencements.

While some board members wanted a more specific plan, they all agreed it was important to give students the chance to safely walk across the stage.

“The thing I’m hearing so much from students through various different schools in the county, not just St. James, that they want their football field because they want to go home one more time together,” said Janice Morreale, who represents St. James and Socastee.

Program schools can also have recognition ceremonies on their campuses. The Myrtle Beach Convention Center was considered as a possible location for graduations, but the idea was scrapped because of how far it is from high schools in the western part of the county.

Graduations are expected to be in the first week of June.

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