To say the new coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has thrown our world upside-down would be an enormous understatement.
Our daily routines, jobs, trips, church worship services, grocery store runs, how we interact -- or don't interact with people -- have all changed, perhaps forever. One of the biggest shocks to our lives was the cancellation of in-person classes at our public schools throughout the state in mid-March. Those classes moved online, while many of the extracurricular activities were put on hold or cut short for the school year.
Graduating seniors missed many hallmark moments, from senior trips to prom to senior field days to their final high school honor nights. Due to the need to social distance to stem the spread of COVID-19, many students and their families wondered if graduation would ever happen. Fortunately for students in Whitfield County Schools, it will. But it won't be your typical commencement ceremonies.
The four county high schools -- Coahulla Creek, Northwest Whitfield, Phoenix and Southeast Whitfield -- usually hold graduation at the Dalton Convention Center. Due to health guidelines, that won't be possible. So school officials brainstormed and came up alternatives that will hopefully keep everyone safe while still giving these seniors the honor the so richly deserve.
As we reported in today's paper, Coahulla Creek, Northwest Whitfield and Southeast Whitfield high schools will have graduation on June 18 and 19 at the school stadiums. The Phoenix High School graduation is June 18 in the Northwest Georgia College & Career Academy multipurpose room. Each high school will also offer a drive-thru commencement "for those nervous about coming out," said Judy Gilreath, superintendent of Whitfield County Schools.
Dalton High held a drive-thru graduation at Harmon Field last month that went off without hitch -- save some rainy weather. The commencement drew high marks from students, families, friends and teachers. Morris Innovative held a small, in-person graduation last month at the school.
COVID-19 has forced us to make changes to seemingly every part our lives. Large graduations with hundreds of attendees just weren't possible this year.
Kudos to all involved who are helping our seniors mark a seminal moment in their lives as they transition to the next phase of their lives.