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High schools in Williams and McKenzie counties are planning for in-person graduation ceremonies after most of a semester of distance learning.

The graduation for Nesson Public School District No. 2, which serves Ray, is set for Sunday, May 17, while others have their ceremonies scheduled for May 24 and May 30.

Alexander Public School will honor their 2020 graduating class by hosting an in-person graduation ceremony on May 24.

The graduation, which will be held in the school gymnasium, will begin at 2 p.m. This year, Alexander has a total of 11 graduating seniors. In addition to adhering to social distancing precautions brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, school superintendent Leslie Bieber states capacity and age restrictions will be enforced at the event.

The ceremony will have a maximum capacity of 120 people, which will include five staff members, and no child under the age of 5 will be permitted to attend.

Seniors over the age of 65 will also not permitted to attend. Other precautionary measures will include pre-recorded music without a live choir performance.

For those unable to attend the ceremony, it will be live streamed on the Alexander Public School Facebook page. Despite the restrictions, Bieber says the community has been very supportive and understanding.

“I have worked in education for 22 years, and this is by far the most challenging set of circumstances I’ve ever seen,” Bieber tells the Williston Herald. “But through this whole time, everybody has been extremely understanding and always asking what they can do to help. It’s really special to be a part of the Comet community.”

Alexander joins Grenora, Trenton, Tioga, Ray, Williston Trinity Christian, Williston and Watford City as high schools who have announced plans to host in-person ceremonies later this month. While Trenton’s graduation will be held on Saturday, May 30 on the school football field, Watford City will host their graduation ceremony on May 24 at the Rough Rider Center.

Two guests only

Williston plans to host a graduation ceremony on May 24 at 2 p.m., and will allow just two guests per graduate according to a May 14 message posted on the school’s Facebook page. Weather permitting, the ceremony will take place outdoors at Legends Field.

While graduates would be seated in the east side bleachers, guests would sit by the track near the parking lot entrance.

In the event of inclement weather, Williston’s ceremony would take place inside the school theater, with graduates waiting in the parking lot to hear their names called.

Once their name is called, the graduates and their guests would enter the building to receive their diploma. WHS will determine which plan to use on Saturday, May 23, and the ceremony will be live streamed by the technical department of the Williston Public School District, with audio provided by Coyote Radio and KEYZ 660 AM News Radio.

Tioga, Grenora and Williston Trinity Christian School will also hold their graduation ceremonies on campus on May 24 at 2:30, 4 and 5:30 respectively. As Tioga principal Brodie Odegaard states, the actual graduation ceremony itself holds high significance to the students, faculty and the entire community.

Taking precautions

“The in-person ceremony is not just for the graduates themselves, but it is also for the parents and the families involved,” Odegaard states. “And because of that, I think it is very important to honor this year’s graduating class while also adhering to social distancing precautions.”

While Tioga graduates are permitted to bring up to six guests to the ceremony, up to 20 invites have been permitted for Grenora’s graduating class. There will two separate gymnasiums in use during Grenora’s ceremony with chairs to be set up to accommodate as many as 10 people per group.

As for Ray High School, their graduation will take place on May 17 at 2 p.m. Along with Tioga and Grenora, Ray’s graduation will be live streamed on BEK Television.

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