Plans to celebrate May 28 Commencement

Posted On: Friday, May 15, 2020

To celebrate our Class of 2020 during this unprecedented time, Ottawa Hills Local Schools has developed a plan that maintains the spirit and solemnity of this important moment while also complying with local and state health regulations. 

MAY 19 ADDITION: Parents will be able to leave their vehicles and walk with their child to the 50-yard line. The student will proceed onto the stage; the parents will be able to view that moment from a special location. The entire family will then return together to their vehicle.

Schedule of events for Thursday, May 28:

  • 6 p.m.: Ottawa Hills Local Schools begins broadcasting pre-recorded speeches via its Facebook page. There will be six short addresses:
    • Symphonic Band and Choraliers (surprise)
    • Superintendent Dr. Adam Fineske
    • Principal Ben McMurray
    • Student Speeches
    • Presentation of the class gift
  • 6:45 p.m.: Pre-recorded section of ceremony ends. Parents/families and graduates get into their vehicles and drive to Niedermeier Stadium. (One vehicle per family)
  • 7 p.m.: All vehicles have entered the stadium and parked as directed. Ceremony begins.
  • 7:01 p.m.: Student names will be announced in alphabetical order. The student will exit his or her vehicle, walk toward the 50-yard line, and then be presented with his or her diploma on a stage positioned at the 50-yard line. (This part of the ceremony also will be streamed live on the district’s Facebook page. Copies will be made available upon request following the event.)
  • 8:20 p.m.: Last student name is announced. Vehicle exit processional begins, led by officers of the Ottawa Hills Police Department.
  • 9 p.m. Neighborhood car processional ends. Congratulations, graduates!

(Note: The rain date for the event is Friday, May 29.)

Additional details to ensure a successful celebration:

Overview of Commencement Event

Entering the Stadium

  • Students and parents are encouraged to decorate their cars. Only one car per graduate will be permitted to enter the stadium. Convertibles and open door jeeps are allowed.  Student drivers will not be permitted. Additional cars will not be permitted inside the stadium.  Please do not invite additional spectators, they will not be permitted on school grounds.  School officials and the OHPD will be on site to help coordinate the event. The stadium entrance and track decorations are being coordinated by school officials.
  • All vehicles must enter through the senior parking lot on Osborne Street. (see map)
  • Spectators will not be permitted along fences or in the stands. School officials and the Ottawa Hills Police Department will be present to ensure the event complies with the plan, which has been submitted and approved by the Lucas County Health Department.
  • For safety reasons, parent drivers are required for the stadium event and neighborhood caravan. Again, student drivers will not be permitted.
  • Enter Niedermeier Stadium through the west gates and receive the Commencement program (up to 5 per vehicle) before entering the track. Each graduate also will be provided with a special OH-themed mask. It is optional for the student to wear the mask when he or she comes onto the field.
  • All cars will turn right into the stadium and drive around the track and park. School officials and the OHPD will assist with parking around the track.  
  • Graduates may exit their vehicles only when their name is announced. Parents and family members must remain in their vehicles at all times. District officials went to great lengths to get these plans approved. Gov. DeWine’s guidelines and plans approved by the Lucas County Health department forbid us to allow people to stand outside of their vehicles. 

Overview of Commencement Stage

Presentation of Diplomas

  • Once all vehicles are in the stadium, participants will be asked to roll down their windows. Seniors will be announced in alphabetical order. Once the student’s name is announced, his or her senior photo will be displayed on the stadium scoreboard, and remain up until the next student’s name is called.
  • Appropriate etiquette is required during the presentation of diplomas.  School officials will make an announcement over the PA when it is appropriate to honk, cheer, and applaud. We ask that all participants respect and honor each graduate’s moment.
  • Parents will be able to leave their vehicles and walk with their child to the 50-yard line. The student will proceed onto the stage; the parents will be able to view that moment from a special location.
  • Before climbing the steps to the stage, the graduate will pick up his/her diploma, and walk onto the center of the stage and face the press box for an official photo. All at a safe social distance, others in the photo will include OHLS Board of Education members Rob Gnepper and Lisa Brown, Superintendent Dr. Adam Fineske, and Principal Ben McMurray.  As graduates exit stage right, they will pause and pose for an individual photo taken by Kevin Merrill. They will then grab their graduation folder containing medals, certificates, awards, and important reminders from guidance counselor Jennifer Nagy, and then return with their parents back to their vehicle.
  • As the graduate is returning to his or her vehicle, the next graduate will be called to the stage.
  • Teacher and DJ Jeremy Nixon will play each senior’s “walk out song” over the stadium speakers. (A survey was sent to students on May 8. If a student does not submit a request, Mr. Nixon will select an appropriate song.)
  • To conclude the ceremony, Senior Class President Anna Brown will ask the graduates to move their tassels as a symbolic representation of their completion of high school.
  • Please note that official photos will be taken by Yarko Kuk of the Village Voice and OHLS Communications Director Kevin Merrill.  Photos will be shared with students via Google Drive.

Celebration Route post-Commencement

Celebration Route Through the Village

  • After the last graduate has returned to his or her vehicle, the Ottawa Hills Police Department will lead a caravan of cars on a predetermined route through Ottawa Hills (see map below). Cars will exit out of the stadium and parking lot and proceed west on Osborne St.  
  • Senior Week planners worked with the Ottawa Hills Police Department to maximize the area traveled throughout the Village while maintaining safety. (The police department discouraged traveling on or across major roads throughout the Village, including Bancroft Street, Central Avenue, and Secor Road.)
  • Community members, family, and friends will be encouraged to cheer on the Class of 2020.  Spectators are encouraged to stay in their yards and avoid congregating in large groups.
  • The police department anticipates that it will take about 40-45 minutes for all vehicles to complete the neighborhood route.
  • The parade ends at the intersection of Brittany and Talmadge. Graduates and families should return to their residences. School grounds and facilities will remain closed.

Rain-Delay Directions

  • If rain delays the stadium event, the school will send out a message via OH Connections and School Messenger. Mr. McMurray and Dr. Fineske will also send reminders via Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

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