LIST: Local school divisions find creative ways to celebrate the class of 2020

Parades, special notes, Commencement in Cars are just a few

ROANOKE, Va. – We checked with all of our local school divisions to find out what plans they had to celebrate seniors under the current guidelines of limited gatherings and social distancing.


Alleghany County is planning a formal graduation ceremony on July 11, pending direction from the Governor’s office. Should the Governor’s office direct ACPS to maintain the current guidelines, there will be a car graduation on the same date.


Amherst County High School will host its commencement exercises on May 23rd at 6:00 PM at Amherst County High School called Commencement in Cars. Every senior will be given tickets for two cars (the senior-family car and the guest car). Families are encouraged to decorate their cars with positive and inspirational messages and/or school spirit. A jumbo screen will project the ceremony to the guests with speeches by seniors. At the conclusion of our speeches, the cars carrying the seniors will drive down Lancer Lane where their teachers will be standing and cheering every 10 feet leading them to the stage at the bottom of the junior parking lot where our stage will be waiting for them. They will walk across the stage and receive their diploma where they will have their picture taken and be cheered on by their friends, family, and everyone in the parking lot. When the students walk across the stage, a slide will be shown on the screen with their picture, accomplishments, and future plans.

Parade: After students receive their diploma they will drive out of the back exit of the junior lot where a police escort will lead them as a parade of seniors through the Town of Amherst. Friends, family, and community members will be encouraged to park along the parade route to honk and cheer our newest Amherst graduates through the Town of Amherst


Appomattox County is still hoping to hold a traditional graduation ceremony for seniors even if must be held later this summer in June or even July. In the meantime, the high school team is planning a virtual version of a graduation ceremony to use in case we are still restricted by the state’s large gathering rules.


All three county high schools are working to find a date, time, location and format for a traditional graduation ceremony as early as mid-to-late summer.


Botetourt County Public Schools will celebrate the Class of 2020 in two ways. An online graduation will be held already announced on the senior’s keepsake graduation announcement: Lord Botetourt High School, May 18 at 7:00 PM, and James River High School, May 19 at 7:30 PM. The online graduation will be accessible on the school and division websites; as well as; social media.

After the restrictions on large gatherings are lifted, an in-person graduation ceremony will be planned for both high schools. The previously announced graduation ceremony dates of June 13 for James River High School and June 15 for Lord Botetourt High School have been postponed. It is our plan to schedule graduation ceremonies in the fall.


Buena Vista is having individual graduation ceremonies in June at the pavilion at Maury River Park. Up to ten people will be allowed with the graduate. They will walk across the stage, get their diploma, and pose for pictures. The video will be edited together along with speeches from students and played sometime later this summer for everyone to watch together at Hull’s Drive-In in Rockbridge County.


Waiting to hear back from the school division.


A drive-thru graduation will be held on Saturday, June 13 at Tommy Thompson Field. During this time seniors, along with their parents, will drive around the football field to the graduation stage, park, exit the car to the staging area, then the student will walk to the podium to receive their diploma as well as being photographed with their diploma. The ceremony will be livestreamed and a video will be created for each graduating senior. More information will be provided by the high school in the upcoming days.


Holding a Graduation Ceremony at the Amphitheater at Jackson River Sports Complex on June 12th and 13th. Each family will have 15 minute time slots. Family members will be able to walk down in front of the Amphitheater stage to take pictures as their graduate receives their diploma. They will be mailing out invitations to each family with their time slot. If you are unable to attend at your designated time, please contact the school to schedule a makeup date. More information about the process will be coming with the invitations.

The Hope For the Highlands (Prom Event) has been moved tentatively to July 18th and they plan to continue to update those details.


Craig County High School is planning a “drive up” graduation ceremony on Friday, May 22 at 1:00 PM at the Craig County Fairgrounds. Seniors will remain in cars with families until called to the stage. Each senior will have a senior parking sign. Once the senior’s name is called he/she will exit the car and proceed to the stage to receive his/her diploma. The event will be broadcast through automobile radios and will be live streamed. The ceremony will include the traditional elements: Speeches by Valedictorian, Salutatorians, Musical Performance, Guest Speaker, Scholarship Announcements, Diploma Presentation and conferring of Diplomas. However, there will be no more than 3 people on the stage at a time and we will practice social distancing.


Tentative plans for graduation ceremonies include Galileo Magnet High School Commencement Ceremony - Friday, July 10, 2020, 7:00 pm - George Washington High School Auditorium and George Washington High School Commencement Ceremony - Saturday, July 11, 2020, 7:00 pm - Averett University North Campus


Faith Christian School is following the Senior’s request to delay an onsite ceremony with the hopes that an August date will allow for all to be present. The traditional Graduation Ceremony is scheduled for Saturday, August 15th at the school. Staff have also delivered personalized yard signs to each seniors’ home as well as delivered their caps and gowns and held “Front Porch” photo shoots with their families in their cap and gown.


Floyd County schools has an “Adopt a Senior” initiative going where staff picks a senior to write to them with congratulations, words of encouragement, and graduation gifts. The staff who adopted the senior will go and put the yard sign that we had designed in the senior’s yard. They will be asking for the seniors to take a short video of them beside their sign and Citizens, the local internet, telephone, and cable provider, will be putting these videos together.

We had Citizens also film our senior awards done virtually with just the high school administration. This will air on their cable station on May 7 and seniors will also receive a copy.

The school system is currently looking at different options for graduation from virtual graduation to individual graduations in person with social distancing. This all depends if the current situation changes.


Waiting to hear back from the school division.


Giles County schools plan to announce graduation plans after June 10.


Still finalizing plans.


High schools will have their traditional graduation ceremonies once gathering restrictions are lifted. They don't want previously scheduled graduation dates to go without recognition, so they are creating videos to share publicly honoring graduates on their previously scheduled graduation dates of May 22 and 23.


Virtual graduation for Lynchburg City Schools is May 31. Traditional speeches will be included and live streamed on the school system’s facebook page. From June 1-5 students can drive up to get their diplomas.


Martinsville faculty and staff distributed yard signs to seniors' homes. The names of three seniors each day, last name A-Z, are on the marquee outside of the high school. The three seniors' each day are also being highlighted on our Facebook and Twitter pages.

A video is in the works filled with congratulatory messages from MHS alumni and community leaders. This video is scheduled to air on social media May 23rd - the original date for graduation. For graduation and other end of year events and ceremonies, they plan to schedule them for later in the year but do not have dates at this time.


Montgomery County Public Schools is hosting live, socially-distanced ceremonies for graduates and their families. The Class of 2020 will graduate on Saturday, May 30, at Virginia Tech in parking lot I. Ceremony times are as follows:

Blacksburg High School - 8 a.m.

Eastern Montgomery High School - Noon

Auburn High School - 2:30 p.m.

Christiansburg High School - 5:30 p.m.

The graduation ceremonies will occur rain or shine. Should lightning cause a delay for any of the graduation ceremonies, they will be moved to Sunday, May 31.

A stage will be set up at the front of the parking lot. Graduates and their families will arrive in cars, with families arriving at the site together. All cars will park facing the stage for the opening remarks. All cars in a family will travel to the front of the stage where the graduate will exit the vehicle, walk across the stage, and receive their diploma cover. Families will be parked directly in front of the stage while the graduate crosses, and will be able to take photos of their graduate from their vehicles.


Nelson County is still planning to host a traditional ceremony this summer. High School administrators are receiving feedback from a senior survey to see what other options they may want them to explore if things do not allow a traditional ceremony in June. The High School has posted yard signs, honored senior athletics via social media and they are working with the local newspaper to produce a special edition. Nelson County High School is also planning to recognize graduating seniors on the school's electronic marquee from May 18-29.


The Director of Secondary Education and the high school principals met and made a recommendation to hold graduation exercises in July at Averett’s Grant Center in Danville:

  • July 17 7:00 p.m. CHS
  • July 18 9:00 a.m. DRHS
  • July 18 1:00 p.m. THS
  • July 18 6:00 p.m. GHS


Saturday, June 13, 2020- Senior Parade & Fireworks at the Motor Mile Speedway

Sunday, June 14, 2020- Senior Baccalaureate

Monday, June 15, 2020- Senior Visits to Elementary & Middle Schools

Tuesday, June 16, 2020- Cougar Community Scavenger Hunt

Wednesday, June 17, 2020- Virtual Awards Ceremony

Thursday, June 18, 2020- Senior Picnic/Final Tour of PCHS Campus

Friday, June 19, 2020- Senior Day at Claytor Lake State Park- Free day use admission for all members of the PCHS Class of 2020

Saturday, June 20, 2020- Graduation

PCHS will provide more details about each of these events in the near future. Participants will be expected to practice whatever social distancing guidelines are in place on the days of these events.


Radford High School rescheduled graduation to Friday, June 26 at Bobcat Stadium (rain date is July 3), pending the lifting of stay at home orders and social distancing requirements. If social distancing and stay at home orders remain in place, they have a virtual graduation option that they will share after June 10. The school system partnered with Radford City and local businesses to make senior yard signs and t-shirts for each student. Senior banners will be hung throughout the City by the second or third week of May. Belle Heath Elementary staff made a senior tribute: <>.


Each senior in a cap and gown is coming with family one at a time to Roanoke Catholic to receive their diploma outdoors on their mall. They are recording each family and then will edit them all together to form a virtual graduation broadcast that will air on June 6, which is the scheduled graduation date, on the video live-streaming service, They have also invited lower school students, alumni and parents to send in video tributes which will go into the broadcast as well.


Roanoke City has not officially canceled an in-person graduation, saying it is impossible to set a date for one right now. There will be virtual ceremonies for the graduates of Patrick Henry High School, William Fleming High School, and Forest Park Academy on the District's Facebook page on the following dates and times:

Forest Park Academy's ceremony will take place on Tuesday, June 2, at 6 p.m.

Patrick Henry's Graduation will take place Thursday, June 4, at 10 a.m., and William Fleming's will take place on June 4 at 2 p.m.


Roanoke County Public Schools is planning to celebrate the Class of 2020 in multiple parts. Part one will take the form of online graduation ceremonies that will premiere on May 19 and 20. Part two will be in-person celebrations to take place later this summer or fall. These events will be scheduled once the current restrictions on large gatherings have been lifted. Online graduations will be streamed via the Roanoke County Public Schools website at


RCHS will hold a parade for the graduating class of 2020 on the evening of May 22. Graduates riding inside their family vehicles, will proceed from Rockbridge County High School parking lot to Hull’s Community Drive-In, located on U. S. Route 11. Hull’s Drive-In will show the graduates and their family the RCHS virtual graduation that was filmed early this month. The community may park along the parade route and cheer on the graduates as they proceed to Hull’s Drive-In. Please make sure your vehicle is completely off the road. The parade will start at 7:45 pm at the high school parking lot. The Hull’s Drive-In Virtual Graduation Show is private, only for graduates and their family. The graduation video will be released to the general public after the showing at Hull’s Drive-In. A link to the video will be on the RCHS webpage, the RCHS Facebook page, and YouTube.


Members of the Salem Class of 2020 and their families will be able to participate in two ceremonies.

The first will be held on June 12, the date originally scheduled for a traditional in-person graduation ceremony. School leaders said because the likelihood of doing a traditional ceremony is slim, considering the uncertain future surrounding Virginia’s reopening, they are going to plan for a virtual ceremony. However, school leaders said they are making back up plans for an in-person ceremony in case the “stars align” in their favor. The majority of planning is focused on the virtual ceremony, which will be held zia Zoom and potentially streamed on social media.

The second ceremony provides an in-person opportunity for students to receive their diplomas and have photos taken in their caps and gowns. This event is scheduled for June 13 at the Salem Civic Center Annex. Families will enter the annex in their vehicles and the student will get out of the car, walk across a stage and receive his or her diploma. Families are supposed to take photos from inside the car during this portion of the event, as there will be photo stations manned by professional photographers in another area. These photos will be shared with families free of charge.


Wythe County will be having graduation on the following dates: Rural Retreat High School on June 18, George Wythe High School on June 19, and Fort Chiswell High School on June 20. Times are all TBD. Schools are working on one of two scenarios: Traditional graduation or a ‘drive-thru’ graduation. It will depend on social distancing guidelines and any possible state orders. Schools are providing seniors with yard signs and there are banners at the schools as well. Some schools may be planning other recognition.

About the Author

You can see Jenna weekday mornings at the anchor desk on WSLS 10 Today from 5-7 a.m. She also leads our monthly Solutionaries Series, where we highlight the creative thinkers and doers working to make the world a better place.

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