Thursday, May 7, 2020
Friday, May 1, 2020
After spending the last several weeks gathering input and researching options, San Juan Unified high schools have made the decision to move forward with virtual graduation ceremonies for the graduating Class of 2020. Each school's virtual ceremony will be available for streaming via YouTube on the date and time of the schools’ graduation (see schedule below). Ceremonies will include student and staff speakers as well as a display for each graduating senior.
Making sure that every graduating senior is recognized for their accomplishment is a top priority for each of our high schools. In light of the COVID-19 situation and current social distancing orders, a virtual option for graduation ceremonies ensures the health and safety of our students, families and school communities. The district will continue to monitor health restrictions and guidelines and schools may consider other in-person events later in the calendar year to honor the class of 2020 if circumstances change.
In order to make this year’s virtual ceremonies a success, work must begin soon, including making sure our graduates have items such as caps and gowns, cords, and other items tied to graduation. Each high school will be contacting its seniors in the coming weeks to arrange for item pick-up and provide further details about the preparations necessary to participate in this year’s graduation events.
We hope that all of our seniors and families will participate to commemorate this important moment in their educational journeys. We also encourage you to share your Class of 2020 photos, videos and memories with us on social media using #SJGrad2020.
Congratulations again to the graduating Class of 2020 - we look forward to celebrating you!
Virtual Graduation: Frequently Asked Questions
San Juan Unified has contracted with a vendor, Herff Jones, that will help develop virtual ceremonies. The event will include:
- Pre-recorded speeches by students and staff
- A processional of personalized slides, where graduates have the opportunity to display a photo and short written message
- All graduate names will be announced as their personalized slide is displayed
- All materials combined to make the ceremony and available for streaming online starting on the date and time of the school’s graduation
Q: Why have a virtual graduation? Why not wait until the COVID-19 stay-at-home order is lifted and do a traditional ceremony at that time?
A: Virtual graduation events allow us to meet two of the largest interests we heard from students, staff and families. First, to make sure that we honor the class of 2020 for their accomplishment and second to do so in a way that includes as many of our students with their peers as possible.
There are no indications that health restrictions will be eased to allow in-person group events of any reasonable size prior to the end of the year, at which time we know many of our students will depart for colleges, careers and military service.
Q: Can my child’s school host a ceremony later?
A: The district will continue to monitor health restrictions and guidelines and schools will consider other in-person events later in the calendar year to honor the class of 2020 if circumstances change
Q: Could you have hosted an in-person ceremony using social distancing?
A: Unfortunately based on the current Sacramento County stay-at-home order, an in-person gathering is not possible at this time. The order has been extended through May 22, which is just a few weeks before our first scheduled graduations. While we do expect the order will be modified in coming weeks, we have been given no indication that group gatherings are likely to be allowed. In order to be able to still honor our graduates in some way, we chose a virtual option that can still occur regardless if the order is extended beyond May 22. Should circumstances change we will revisit our plan.
Q: Is San Juan Unified the only district doing virtual graduations?
A: No, most local districts including Sacramento City Unified, Elk Grove Unified, Natomas Unified and Roseville Joint High School District are all creating virtual ceremonies due to COVID-19 restrictions on mass gatherings. Sacramento State and other colleges are also using a virtual platform for 2020 graduations.
Q: What resources are available for a student if they are having a hard time processing this change or any of the changes made under stay-at-home guidance?
A: Our world is not the place any of us thought it would be just a few short weeks ago. While changes like closing school campuses in favor for distance learning and implementing stay-at-home guidance have been done to protect health and safety, we have each processed them in our own ways. Counseling and other support services are available to students by contacting their school counselor or having a referral completed online.
Q: Did you get input from students and parents before coming to this decision?
A: Superintendent Kern started collecting input by meeting with the Superintendent’s Student Advisory Committee, a group of high school students representing each high school in the district. Many schools collected input from parents while a working group of staff including our principals has helped guide the process. While almost everyone preferred an in-person ceremony, they recognized that it was not possible at this time and wanted to be able to celebrate in some way. Our students made it clear that including as many of their peers as possible was important to them.
Q: Why not host graduation at the drive-in theater, so we can see students cross the stage and honk.
A: Renting the drive-in screens is costly and is not large enough to meet the demand for all of our families to attend. Also, that option would still require a pre-recorded ceremony. Seniors would not be crossing a stage - they would be in a car with their family, watching the video on the big screen. Additionally, this option presented an equity issue, as not all families have a vehicle to use for the drive-in experience.
Q: My student will not participate. What if students do not participate?
A: We sincerely hope your student will reconsider and participate in this, as well as any other future graduate recognitions, along with their peers. All graduates will be included in the virtual ceremonies. They will have an opportunity to upload their own photo and a short written message. If they do not, the school will use a yearbook or student ID photo.
Q: The process involves students recording their own names. Isn’t that impersonal?
A: All graduate names will be announced by a school staff member or professional recording artist hired by Herff Jones. Graduates are being asked to record their name on the system so that the individual reading their name will have correct pronunciations. Students also have the option of writing out their names phonetically.
Q: Will we be able to view the virtual ceremony after the scheduled broadcast?
A: Yes, the ceremony for each high school will be available on YouTube for viewing after the scheduled broadcasts.
Q: What about caps and gowns? Why did we need to still pick them up?
A: Students are encouraged to upload a photo for their personalized slide wearing their cap and gown. Additionally, we are hoping that students wear their cap and gown during the virtual graduation ceremony, where they can celebrate with family and friends. Photos and videos can be shared on social media using #SJGrad2020. Caps and gowns may also be used if other in-person events are scheduled later in the year.
Q: How do graduates upload their photo for the personalized slide?
A: Seniors will receive an email to their student email account with full instructions in the coming week on how to log-in and develop their slide.
Q: How can a family celebrate a virtual graduation ceremony together?
A: All virtual ceremonies will be available for streaming on YouTube and can be accessed by family and friends starting on the date and time of the school’s scheduled event. While maintaining appropriate stay-at-home protocols, families are encouraged to gather and watch together if in the same household or consider creating a watch party on Facebook so you can watch with others.
Each school may also schedule online group events or other activities just prior to or during the initial release of the virtual ceremony.
Thursday, June 4
- Bella Vista High School, 10 a.m.
- La Vista, 7 p.m.
- Mira Loma High School, 7 p.m.
Friday, June 5
- Casa Roble Fundamental High School, 10 a.m.
- El Camino Fundamental High School, 7:30 p.m.
- Encina Preparatory High School, 7 p.m.
Saturday, June 6
- Del Campo High School, 10 a.m.
Monday, June 8
- Laurel Ruff Transition School, 7 p.m. (senior checkout on June 9 at 10 a.m.)
- Mesa Verde High School, 7:30 p.m.
Tuesday, June 9
- Meraki High School, 6 p.m.
- El Sereno & La Entrada High Schools, 7 p.m.
- Rio Americano High School, 6 p.m.
- San Juan High School, 7 p.m.