Buchanan High School graduation to take place at Redbud

BUCHANAN—Students graduating from Buchanan High School may not get the traditional graduation they hoped for, but they will get something truly unique to the Buchanan community.  Instead of walking across a more traditional school stage, students will instead arrive at the grounds famous for dirt bikes and large crowds.
“What says ‘Buchanan’ more than Red Bud?” said Stacey DeMaio, principal of Buchanan High School.

With ongoing COVID-19 mandates advising against gatherings, schools are seeking alternative solutions to ensuring graduating seniors are celebrated. The Buchanan School Board worked to find a solution to students’ last visits to the high school, awards ceremonies, picking up caps and gowns, and finally having a graduation ceremony worthy of the 2020 class. The board came up with two unique events, and kept the graduation date at June 6. Keeping the earlier graduation date was imperative for the administration, as they knew many of their students would have left town by a postponed date.

“We really wanted to make sure that our graduation date stayed as close to the original date as possible,” DeMaio said. “This has been a really amazing place for kids who have decided to go into the military. They are on a deadline for their enlistment.”

With that knowledge, DeMaio and assistant principal Brian Pruett, along with the school board, began brain storming solutions to the deadline.

When high school students left classes on March 13, as COVID-19 mandates closed schools’ doors, they likely did not realize it was the last time they would be together as classmates. The administration at Buchanan High School heard from students wishing to visit the building one more time before graduating.

On June 1 and 2, the high school will host an event the organizers are calling the “Senior Cruise.” The event divides the seniors up by last names, and has 12 stations for students. They will begin at the first stops where items like books will be returned to the school, and awards, caps and gowns will be picked up. There will be multiple photo opportunities around the school grounds for seniors to utilize in their graduation regalia in the next steps. Finally, they will pick up personalized signs and ice cream to enjoy as they exit the set up.

“You still can’t go up and hug your friends and shake hands, but you can see your teachers from 6 feet,” Pruett said. “This is stuff we haven’t done before. The kids have never done this before. It’s kind of cool and different.”

The following Friday will see the graduating seniors graduate in a unique style, at the RedBud Motocross grounds.

The parents will have their cars parked on a hill overlooking a stage, according to Pruett.

“The kids will get an escort out to RedBud by the police, and then there’s a row that loops around where they will be parked,” he said. “They’ll come up, one car at a time to the stage. They’ll get out of their car and get their items off of the table, take a picture, turn their tassel, and get back in their car.”

The ceremony will be completed with a viewing of the class’ senior video, which has not yet been debuted.

“I know everyone was really nervous about wanting an in-person graduation,” DeMaio said. “I think this is the best that we can do, without being in-person and having a traditional graduation. Everybody has been really supportive about getting this done and making it work.”

The graduation ceremony at Redbud will include the use of an FM transmitter so that everyone in attendance may listen to the names being read. There will also be speakers and a large video screen. Much fo the sound and video equipment is being donated by DPM Events.

A video of the event will be produced by OnBase productions.