EVANS, Ga. (WJBF) — Graduation for all Columbia County High Schools has historically been held at the James Brown Arena. This year, Evans Towne Center Park is where hundreds of Columbia County high school seniors will receive their diplomas.
“One of the things that were made clear to us by the graduates and their parents was, they wanted to have a physical graduation,” said Superintendent Dr. Sandra Carraway.
The Columbia County School Board spends about $20,000 to have graduation at The James Brown Arena. Dr. Carraway says the change in venue this year was made in response to increased audience restrictions and costs at the JBA because of the coronavirus.
“All of the extra requirements like sanitizing the seats, having ushers to take them to the seats, and having the personnel to help them to come in the doors would have cost us more money,” explained Dr. Carraway.
Dr. Caraway says at the JBA, graduates were going to have to sit apart from each other, and audience members would be limited to 1,240 people. Those who would have been allowed in would have had assigned seats.
“They gave us the option of four audience members for about 330 graduates,” said Dr. Carraway. “Four out of the five high schools are well more than 330 students.”
Columbia County’s Superintendent says the thought of using the school’s football stadiums came up, but that would have caused social distancing difficulties. She says the Evans Towne Center Park Area was the next best choice. However, the school board will have guidelines. You’ll be required to wear a face mask, social distancing will be enforced, and there will be limit of people who can attend.
“We know with four per graduate, that’s about 2,100 people on the site,” said Dr. Carraway. “If they are social distancing by groups, the site can accommodate that.”
Now with an in-person graduation is a reality for the Class of 2020. Dr. Carraway says this could be the start of a new tradition for Columbia County families.
“I think as they grow up, they will have in their toolkit the ability to adust, deal with disappointment, and make it as positive as possible,” explained Dr. Carraway.
Ceremonies for the Class of 2020 will take place on May 29th, and May 30th. The event will be live-streamed for those who want to take safety precautions.