Prep Sports Coordinator

Colin Likas is prep sports coordinator at The News-Gazette. His email is clikas@, and you can follow him on Twitter (@clikasNG).

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Today kicks off our series on the creative ways area high schools are approaching graduation. Let us know at jrossow@

BEMENT — It won’t be the graduation ceremony Bement High School’s Class of 青鹏棋牌 anticipated. But the setup being provided for 18 outgoing students, according to Principal Doug Kepley, still allows these Bulldogs “to have their moment.”

Taking place on May 22, Bement will conduct an individualized diploma-receiving event at its high school gymnasium, followed by a “parade of graduates” through the town.

This falls in line with Saturday’s joint announcement from the Illinois Department of Public Health and Illinois State Board of Education that indicated individualized, drive-in or drive-up graduation ceremonies are permissible during the COVID-19 pandemic and state stay-at-青鹏棋牌 order.

“As I have told many of my seniors, I said, ‘My heart just goes out to you. You guys have just been robbed of your senior year,’” Kepley said. “I said, ‘We are going to do everything possible to give you some kind of a ceremony that can recognize you and your accomplishments.’”

For the graduation itself, a student and up to four family members will enter the gym with no one else present. He or she will take their diploma from a pre-arranged table, and the group will be given five minutes for photos. They’ll then exit the building, and a Bement official outside will allow the next student and family group to enter.

All of this will be video recorded, as will scholarship presentations and speeches from valedictorian Alexis Jones and salutatorian Ellie Shonkwiler at separate times.

These elements will be combined by Bement High technology director Andrew Brown and assistant Linda Taylor — who also have directed the school’s online learning program during the pandemic — and distributed publicly at a later date.

“They have really stepped up helping the district during this time,” Kepley said of Brown and Taylor.

The parade aspect was suggested to Kepley by some of the seniors, who’d seen it acted out in other places.

“It’s a great idea,” Kepley said. “They’re going to stay in their cars (led by Bement Fire Protection District trucks), and people will be able to congratulate them from a distance.”

The graduation ceremony will start at 5 p.m., with the parade slated for 7. There could be a makeup date for the parade, Kepley said, if weather doesn’t cooperate.

“I can’t say enough about our teachers and school district in Bement and what they have done to help students,” Kepley said. “That is a benefit of a small school — that we are able to really connect and reach out to all of the students.”