Marianas High School will be hosting an in-person graduation ceremony this year while still complying with COVID-19 safety guidelines, making it the only one so far of Saipan’s four high schools within the Public School System to plan for and organize an in-person graduation.
The ceremony will be held at the Commonwealth Ports Authority airport field on May 28.
“MHS pursued an in-person graduation based on our stakeholders. Our students have been very vocal; our parents as well. We wanted to see if this is possible,” said MHS principal Jonathan Aguon.
Working with the COVID-19 Task Force, PSS’ key management team needed to make compromises to make the in-person graduation comply with current COVID-19 safety guidelines. In addition to holding the event in a large, open field to ensure social distancing and proper air ventilation, the graduation will both be optional and non-traditional.
“We wanted our students to have the experience of an in-person graduation, but it [will not] have all the elements of a [traditional] ceremony,” said Aguon.
For ease of contact tracing, only graduates who wish to attend will be allowed to be at the airport field. Graduates’ parents and the students who prefer not to attend will be able to follow the graduation online, as the event will be streamed on MHS’ Facebook page. Secondly, actions that could possibly expose attendees to the virus and spread it are prohibited: all in attendance must wear a mask at all times, there will be no gestures such as handshakes or hugs, and students will be required to sanitize at multiple points during the event.
Aguon thanks the COVID-19 Task Force for being open to the idea of an in-person graduation and for their help in ensuring it can happen. “High school graduation is a once-in-a-lifetime type of experience. It’s a major part of any high school student’s life. …We understand that the safety of the community is important, so that’s why we had to make sure that every single box was ticked. We’re not out of the woods yet. If there is community spread [before the graduation], we are prepared to transition to other plans,” said Aguon.