For the Class of 2021 in the Porterville Unified School District, it will be “somewhat normal.”
PUSD has announced its plans for graduation ceremonies this year and seniors graduating in the district will be able to have in-person ceremonies this year. Among the high schools and the adult school, Porterville Adult School will be the only site that won't have an in-person ceremony this year. The adult school will again have a drive-thru ceremony as it did last year.
Of course all state and county COVID-19 guidelines will be followed with limited in-person attendance at all of the in-person graduations. All of the in-person graduation ceremonies will also be held outdoors.
The total number of people allowed at the ceremonies will be 33 percent capacity of the venues in which the ceremonies will be held so that will determine how many guests graduates will be able to invite. Each school will determine the number of guests its graduates will be able to invite. “We're just trying to crunch the numbers,” said PUSD public information officer Jason Pommier about how many people will be allowed at the graduations.
Porterville, Monache and Granite Hills High Schools will hold their ceremonies at Rankin Stadium, which has a capacity of 7,000. So that means a total of 3,333 people can be at the ceremonies.
Strathmore High and Harmony Magnet Academy will hold their ceremonies at Spartan Stadium. Harmony has held its ceremony indoors in the past.
But in making plans for this year's graduations, Pommier said there wasn't any potential for an indoor ceremony to be held so Harmony's ceremony has been moved to Spartan Stadium. Spartan Stadium obviously has a much smaller capacity than Rankin Stadium, but the graduating classes for Strathmore and Harmony will obviously be much smaller.
Butterfield Charter School and Citrus High School will hold outdoor ceremonies at their school sites.
Since the adult school's graduation is held in an intimate setting it was decided a drive-thru ceremony would again be appropriate, Pommier said.
“It's a little more intimate for them. A lot of people liked it,” said Pommier about last year's drive-thru ceremony.
Pommier said he knows there will be “rumblings” as far as how many people will be allowed to attend the graduations. But he added PUSD plans to live stream all of the ceremonies on its YouTube channel for those unable to attend.
And Pommier noted “the proverbial anything can happen” as far as graduation ceremony plans being changed if the status of COVID-19 changes. But Pommier noted even if Tulare County was to slip back into the red tier, ceremonies would still be held at 25 percent capacity. Tulare County is currently in the orange tier.
While not perfect, Pommier said the district is doing its best to accommodate as many people as possible. “Everybody's just looking for somewhat normal,” he said.
The PUSD graduation schedule is as follows:
Butterfield Charter School – Friday, May 28 – 6 p.m. (Butterfield Charter School); Granite Hills High School – Wednesday, June 2 – 7:30 p.m. (Rankin Stadium); Porterville Adult School – Thursday, June 3 – 9 a.m. (Drive-Thru Event – Porterville Adult School); Citrus High School – Thursday, June 3 – 6:45 p.m. (Citrus High School).
Monache High School – Thursday, June 3 – 7:30 p.m. (Rankin Stadium); Strathmore High School – Thursday, June 3 – 8 p.m. (Spartan Stadium); Harmony Magnet Academy – Friday, June 4 – 7 p.m. (Spartan Stadium); Porterville High School – Friday, June 4 – 7:30 p.m. (Rankin Stadium).