Graduation Changes

McCracken County High School Principal Matthew Houser (right) presents a diploma to 2020 graduate Ethan Bellamy, 18, of Paducah on Wednesday afternoon during a live stream of the MCHS graduation as it’s filmed by Shanden Simmons of Socially Present in the school’s auditorium.

High school graduation ceremonies may be altered, but all of the high schools in far western Kentucky are having some form of ceremony for the Class of 2020, ranging from summertime traditional ceremonies to drive-up ceremonies and virtual ceremonies online.

McCracken County is live-streaming its ceremony today and Friday beginning at 2 p.m. each day, available on the high school and district websites. It also streamed part of the ceremony Wednesday. A video of the ceremony combining the three streamed parts will be available on May 22 at those websites.

Paducah Tilghman will post a video of its rite of passage to its school website Friday.

Graves County High School will have a drive-in ceremony Friday that will be live-streamed to the GCTV YouTube account.

Community Christian Academy opted to have a traditional in-person ceremony at 7 p.m. June 5, while St. Mary has scheduled its in-person ceremony for 7 p.m. July 11.

For McCracken County Principal Matt Houser and Paducah Tilghman Principal Allison Stieg, this was not how they envisioned sending off their first class of seniors.

“As a first-year principal, I could not have asked for a better group of students and parents to work with as my very first graduating class,” Houser said. “Even though we are having to make adjustments and many seniors are missing out on opportunities, we are all learning a valuable lesson about how important it is to live every moment to the fullest.

“I expected this job to be difficult at times, but never in my wildest dreams could have imagined something like this! My staff and administration team have been amazing throughout this whole experience and have been a true support system for the students and for me.”

Stieg said: “I have always liked a challenge. These last two months remind me sometimes how it was coaching — times 100. There have been lots of decision-making, problem-solving and thinking out of the box.

“The hardest part has been missing the kids and not being able to see the seniors get to do all of the ‘fun stuff’ they have worked so hard for.”

McCracken County has 438 graduates, while Paducah Tilghman has 174.

St. Mary Principal Doug Shelton said the decision to wait until summer to hold a traditional ceremony came from strong senior feedback.

“My first impulse was to contact our senior class president, Margaret Butts, to consult with her,” he said. “There was strong agreement with the senior class that we couldn’t imagine not doing a traditional live ceremony, so we made the decision to postpone it to July 11. ...

“It’s very probable there will still be guidelines or precautions that remain mandated for large gatherings, but this is an ordeal where we are blessed to be smaller in size (22 graduating seniors), because it allows us maximum flexibility as July 11 approaches.”

CCA Principal Amy Carrico said she also got feedback from her seniors and their families about how to hold this year’s graduation ceremony.

“Due to our small class size (11), we were able to poll all our seniors and parents,” she said. “They preferred to wait and have a traditional ceremony, and we were thankful to be able to honor their requests.”

Here is a look at how area high schools will have their seniors pass the tassel:

• McCracken County: today and Thursday, live-streamed at school and district websites; video available May 22 at those websites.

• Paducah Tilghman: Friday, video release on school website.

• Community Christian Academy: 7 p.m. June 5, traditional ceremony.

• St. Mary: 7 p.m. July 11, traditional ceremony.

• Ballard Memorial: 7 p.m. Friday, video released on school Facebook and YouTube sites.

• Calloway County: May 26, 28 and 29, drive-through ceremony, video released June 12 on district Facebook and YouTube sites.

• Carlisle County: 6 p.m. May 22, drive-in ceremony, video posted to school Facebook and district website.

• Christian Fellowship School: Video to be sent to students, parents and staff.

• Fulton City: 7 p.m. May 29, video released on school website.

• Fulton County: 7:30 p.m. May 29, drive-in ceremony.

• Graves County: 4:30 p.m. Friday, drive-in ceremony live-streamed to GCTV YouTube channel.

• Hickman County: 6:30 p.m. May 22, drive-in ceremony live-streamed on school Facebook site; video available at a later date.

• Livingston Central: 7 p.m. May 22, drive-in ceremony.

• Marshall County: May 22, 23, drive-in ceremony.

• Mayfield: 2 p.m. Sunday, virtual graduation that will be streamed to links found on the school and district websites.

• Murray: May 26, 28, 29, virtual filmed ceremony, video release to be announced.

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