Tentative date announced for TRHS graduation

Rotary Honors Night, other senior activities discussed at BOE meeting


That date, mentioned by Three Rivers High School Principal Carrie Balk during Monday’s Three Rivers Community Schools Board of Education meeting, is currently the scheduled date for graduation ceremonies for the Class of 2020.

Balk mentioned this date as part of an update to the board on senior activities and events surrounding the end of the school year, including the graduation ceremony, Rotary Honors Night and diploma pickup, among others.

She told the board she has been meeting frequently with senior class officers, even prior to the shutdown of schools for the year, which led to the date for graduation being selected. While nothing has been 100 percent finalized regarding the ceremony itself, the ceremony is expected to take place at Armstrong Field, if it is allowed under Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s executive orders at the time.

If July 9 does not work for graduation, Balk said, August 6 is the backup date.

“Our thoughts with that is if there is such a thing going to be allowed, it’d likely be outdoors,” Balk said. “We may or may not be limiting the number of people that are attending it, so we haven’t broadcast anything related to that.”

Balk said she recently participated in a webinar about virtual graduation ceremonies, and after discussions with staff and class officers, it was decided it wasn’t something they wanted to do, calling it “odd.”

If the July 9 or August 6 dates don’t work, Balk said, they would put senior pictures taken by a professional photographer during diploma pickup on May 28 in a publication that would be sent out to the seniors in lieu of a ceremony.

Balk said seniors will have cap and gown pickup today, Wednesday, May 6, from 10 a.m. to noon at the high school along with the aforementioned diploma pickup on May 28. With the cap and gown pickup, students are asked to stay in their cars and not get out for photos while they’re picking up their items.

Prom has also been tentatively rescheduled to June 18 at the CityScape Event Centre in Kalamazoo. This date, Balk said, is also dependent on orders related to social gatherings at the time.

“We’re kind of swinging at the fences and hoping that the June 18 event will happen,” Balk said. “I thought it was worth it for the kids to give our best effort to at least reschedule it, and hopefully it will happen."

As far as Rotary Honors Night, the event where senior awards and scholarships are announced, Balk said she and Superintendent Ron Moag have met twice with members of the Three Rivers Rotary and Three Rivers Area Community Foundation. Initially, Balk said, they thought they may be able to broadcast the ceremony over WLKM radio, but the Rotary wanted to do something different.

“We met again this past Friday, and talked about doing a video and also bringing in a PowerPoint that has pictures of the kids and the awards they’re receiving,” Balk said. “None of us are in love with any of these ideas other than having the traditional ceremony, but it sounds like the possibility of rescheduling this for an actual in-person ceremony is something the Rotary doesn’t want to do.”

With the PowerPoint, Balk said there is the potential of Riverside Church and District Technology Coordinator Nick Bryant collaborating on the presentation. Balk said a clearer idea of when a date will be for Rotary Honors Night will come in the next several days, but said they’re aiming for May 20 at this point.

“It’s just a matter of finding out how long it’s going to take for the video editing and pulling in pictures of the award recipients as well,” Balk said. “We’re looking at May 20 of when we’ll actually release it.”

In addition to these, Balk also mentioned other things the school district is doing to honor the Class of 2020. She said the Three Rivers Community Schools Facebook and Instagram pages are doing a “senior spotlight,” posting pictures on Facebook of the students with their after-high school plans.

In addition, the high school has ordered yard signs for all of the seniors, which have their names on them along with their field of study and school of choice, which will be displayed at the school until May 28, when the seniors can pick them up along with their diplomas. A 20-foot banner thanking the seniors has also been ordered by the high school.

A “senior salute” event, Balk said, is in the “early stages,” which would likely be a parade of the seniors through downtown Three Rivers. Curriculum Director Nikki Nash said what could happen is having the community line the roads—socially-distanced, of course—while students are escorted in vehicles by the Three Rivers Fire Department and Police Department. Any final plans with the police and fire department, Nash said, would be made by Friday.

Moag said honoring the seniors is something that’s on their minds “every day.”

“It’s more prevalent, now that we’ve hit May, to make sure we’re honoring our Class of 2020 any way we can,” Moag said. “It’s an important part for these students as they leave us here in Three Rivers and head on their next stages of their life.”

In other business…

  • The board heard a presentation from Bryant on the St. Joseph County Intermediate School District’s Wide-Area Network proposal to build their own fiber network for schools in the county. A measure to the support the plan will be brought to the board at their May 18 meeting.
  • TRCS Director of Business Operations Blair Brindley gave a presentation to the board on updates to their 2019-20 budget. She said with the cost savings from various different line items, including middle school sports coaches, account freezes, water, electric, gas, fuel, and custodial costs, among others, the district will be saving $230,000 and have a potential $30,000 surplus by the end of the fiscal year.
  • Bryant discussed with the board their plan for WiFi signals for the district. He said expanded WiFi signals are now at all school buildings, and some district fleet vehicles have been equipped with mobile WiFi transmitters in order to spread the mobile WiFi to more students and locations in the city.

Robert Tomlinson can be reached at 279-7488 ext. 23 or robert@threeriversnews.com.

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