McKay High School 2019 summer graduates wait in the West Salem High School lunchroom before the ceremony (Rachel Alexander/Salem Reporter)

Salem-Keizer’s high schools will host dozens of small in-person graduation ceremonies in August, recognizing the Class of 2020 while following health guidelines limiting the size of events.

The decision, announced this week, comes after Superintendent Christy Perry met with senior class leaders in April, who told her students wanted to celebrate finishing high school in person, even if it meant delaying the ceremonies traditionally held in June.

Over 2,300 Salem-Keizer seniors have met graduation requirements this year, district spokeswoman Lillian Govus said, while about 240 still have not.

The district’s six traditional high schools will hold multiple outdoor ceremonies back-to-back, each with about 45 students who can invite four guests each. Schools have emailed seniors and their families to figure out how many want to attend and will decide the number of ceremonies based on RSVPs, Govus said.

Each school is developing its own plan for ceremonies. Sprague High School expects to hold six hour-long graduations where principal Chad Barkes and a student speaker will address graduates, followed by students walking across the stage, then picking up diplomas after the ceremony.

An hour and a half between ceremonies will allow chairs to be sanitized and dry before the next group of students and families.

Govus said other high schools have or are developing similar plans.

High schools will hold ceremonies on their campuses except for McKay High School, which will hold ceremonies at Blanchet Catholic School. Govus said McKay may need to spread ceremonies over two days because of the size of the graduating class.

Roberts High School, Early College High School and other alternative programs, including the teen parent program, will have ceremonies at the Elsinore Theatre. Those graduating classes are small enough to allow social distancing rules and group size limits to be maintained indoors.

Celebrations for graduating Black and Indian Education program seniors will be virtual this year.

A full schedule of planned graduation events is below. More information is available on the district website.

July 31–AVID Graduation Celebration. Location: East Salem Community Center

August 2–African American Graduation Celebration. Location: Virtual Ceremony

August 3–Indian Education Graduation Celebration. Location: Virtual Ceremony

August 4–West Salem High School. Location: West Salem High School

August 4–Sprague High School. Location: Sprague High School

August 5–Community Transition Program. Location: West Salem High School

August 5–McKay High School. Location: Blanchet High School

August 5–Roberts High School. Location: Elsinore Theatre

August 6–North Salem High School. Location: North Salem High School

August 6–Early College High School/Teen Parent Program/Baker. Location: Elsinore Theatre

August 7–McNary High School. Location: McNary High School

August 8–South Salem High School. Location: South Salem High School

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Contact reporter Rachel Alexander: [email protected] or 503-575-1241.