Moody High School seniors unhappy with graduation plans set by St. Clair County school system

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MOODY, Ala. (WIAT) — Moody High School seniors say they’re upset and angry after receiving updated graduation plans from St. Clair County Schools Superintendent Mike Howard.

On Wednesday, seniors and parents were informed private graduation ceremonies would take place the week of May 18. The plans say students will come in one at a time with six family members to receive their diploma in a ceremony.

This is the letter students and parents received from St.Clair County Schools detailing private graduation ceremonies starting May 18.

Howard said the private ceremony follows state health orders for social distancing and limiting the number of people gathered to 10.

“Some parents reached out to me, worried about waiting until July, because their children may not have a chance to walk at all,” Howard said.

Howard said students planned to leave for military training, family trips, or starting new jobs and may not have been able to attend a July graduation.

Seniors at Moody High School say they still want a summer graduation. The class wrote an open letter to Howard:

From the MHS c/o 2020 Class officers :  
President: Abi FowlerVice-president: Landy MitchellSecretary: Aly TaylorTreasurer: Caleb Rothe
We, the class of MHS are very saddened and disappointed in the decision that Superintendent Mike Howard has made regarding our graduation ceremony.  We as a class have lost so many of our rites of passage during this pandemic – Sr Prom, Sr Breakfast, Sr Awards Day and numerous days of class room time of making ever lasting memories with each other.  These things are certainly no one’s fault and couldn’t be helped as saving lives are certainly so much more important.  We DO understand this.  However,  all communications to us and our parents  until yesterday have stated that graduation would be held when it was safer to gather in large numbers either late June or July.  This new decision was totally out of the blue.  While we can’t speak for the students in the other 4 county HS, we can definitely state that we were not consulted in this decision.  Shouldn’t we have?  It effects us the most!Concerning the perimeters of this current graduation ceremony, how are we to CHOOSE 6 people to attend?  Many of us have split families with siblings on both sides.  How do you choose there?  My own step dad (Abi Fowler) is active duty Army and cannot leave the base he is stationed at due to current federal restrictions in place and won’t be able to attend.  Yes we have technology that allows us to stream these events.  But again, we have lost that opportunity to be together as a class 1 last time and turn our tassels together!   To us it doesn’t make sense when other communities near by have already made plans to have outdoor graduations in July or are waiting until later in May to even visit the decision and see how restrictions are lessened.We understand that we have a few students who have made the courageous decision to serve our country in the military and are locked into induction dates that are based on the original graduation date of May 23rd.  We applaud their commitment and love them very much.  Since they are so few out of our 157 class members could they not be included through an on-line stream?In addition  we don’t understand why all 5 county HS have to graduate at the same time.  Why not a community based decision based on timing that works with each communities timeline for opening for public outdoor gatherings larger than 10 people.   We applaud our families and community being behind us in urging for the changing of the graduation ceremony.
Respectfully,The Moody High School Class of 2020

“I just want us to have a graduation. I want us to get that back, because we have already lost so much,” senior Brittany Wilkinson said.

Wilkinson played soccer and had her season cut short.

Seniors say they also missed out on events like prom, awards day, senior breakfast, sports banquets, and even day to day seeing their friends in class.

“We really all had our hopes set on a summer graduation that we could all come together one more time before we head separate ways,” senior Katelyn Ary said.

Howard said parents sent emails and contacted him immediately after sending the letter.

An updated email was sent out, telling seniors and parents a summer graduation ceremony is still in the works.

Howard sent out this follow up message after parents and students reached out with concerns to the first letter sent out.

Howard says the school board hasn’t scheduled a date or released any plans, because it’s uncertain what social distancing guidelines will be in place.

“We are going to do something in July, but we don’t know what that looks like.”

The MHS seniors say they would like to have graduation outside at the football stadium.


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