CHURCH HILL — Volunteer High School’s official, school-sanctioned graduation ceremony was held throughout the day on Saturday, with small groups of students — each with up to four guests — waiting their turns to walk the stage in an otherwise empty gymnasium.
Volunteer’s Class of 2020 had 280 students, although about 40 opted not to participate in Saturday’s graduation ceremony.
Student and their guests pulled up to the north side of the gym in pre-scheduled groups, and were guided by congratulatory school staff members along a sidewalk and into the building where they were again congratulated by school staff who instructed them on the procedure.
Once they made it to the gym entrance, students were separated from their family and friends who made their way onto the free throw line on the gym floor to video and take photos of their graduate receiving his or her diploma.
The big moment came when choir instructor Josh Wenger called the student’s name over the P.A. and the student went on stage. After receiving his or her diploma and posing on the stage with Director of Schools Matt Hixson and Principal Bobby Wines, the grad then exited the stage for another photo opportunity in front of a background of school insignias.
From there, they went out the gym door and back into the world, officially saying goodbye to their high school careers. The entire process for each graduate took about 10 minutes.
Cherokee held a similar “social distancing” graduation ceremony last Saturday, and the small remote K-12 Clinch School graduated its 10 seniors on May 21.
Volunteer’s Class of 2020 will have one more opportunity to say goodbye as a group. An unofficial school prom is scheduled for Saturday, July 18, at the recently constructed Sayrah Barn Performance and Event Venue, located at 4144 Highway 11-W in Surgoinsville.