In contrast to last year’s celebration, which was not traditional due to COVID-19 health precautions, Solon High School will graduate 402 seniors tonight with an in-person commencement ceremony.

“The most meaningful aspect of this year’s commencement will be the ability of the senior class to celebrate together,” said Tamara Strom, district communications director. “High school graduation is an important rite of passage and recognizes students’ accomplishments and the bonds they forged with classmates.

“The joy of celebrating in-person is difficult to replicate virtually,” she added.

Last year, in the height of the pandemic, Solon schools staged a Pomp and Circumstance Commencement Parade, where graduating seniors and their families decorated their cars. Lining the route were Solon schools’ staff members cheering them on. The parade route concluded in front of the school where the graduates received their diplomas.

“Although it was not a traditional commencement, it captured a fun and festive way in the time of COVID for the Class of 2020 to receive their diplomas,” Ms. Strom said.

Solon High School also produced a virtual commencement ceremony that more closely resembled a traditional graduation, with an address from Principal Erin Short and the two students who were selected to be commencement speakers, Ms. Strom continued. The program featured a virtual roll call with each graduate’s photo and composite videos of the graduates ceremoniously moving their tassels.

This year’s celebration will be more traditional, but with appropriate public health protocols in place, Ms. Strom said. It takes place at 7 p.m. (May 27) outdoors on the Stewart Field in the Solon High School stadium. The graduates will be distanced and seated on the field, and family members will watch from the stands on both sides of the field.

In accordance with protocols, Ms. Strom said each student received four tickets and their family members will be seated in distanced “pods.” All attendees will be wearing masks, Ms. Strom said.

“The in-person celebration is equally important to families who have been partners with the schools in helping and guiding their children to this meaningful day,” Ms. Strom said. “Everyone in our school community is looking forward to seeing the excitement and celebration of our graduates and families together in person.”

Parts of tonight’s celebration include the SHS orchestra playing Pomp and Circumstance, and Superintendent Fred Bolden introducing the commencement speakers as well as Principal Erin Short addressing the graduates and presenting the class of 2021. Solon Board of Education President Julie Glavin will award each graduate with a diploma.

Plans for inclement weather include tomorrow and Saturday.

“The students are ecstatic about being able to graduate together with their classmates in person,” Ms. Strom said.

Seniors also enjoyed a prom and special senior movie night earlier this month.

“This year has presented them with significant challenges,” Ms. Strom said, “but they rose to the occasion and are joyful about this week’s in-person graduation.”

For the last decade, Sue Reid has covered the government, business climate and residents of Solon. A Times reporter for 22 years, Ms. Reid has earned commendations from the Ohio Newspaper Association and Cleveland Press Association.

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