ASHLAND – Hanover County Public Schools, with the support of the Hanover County School Board, will host this year’s graduation ceremonies at the Meadow Event Park in Doswell on Friday, June 18, and Saturday, June 19.
According to Dr. Michael Gill, superintendent, two outdoor ceremonies will be held each day in the Festival Loop (one in the morning and one in the early afternoon) “to celebrate our tremendous graduates and maximize the number of guests that may attend.”
In accordance with the Governor’s executive order on COVID-19 restrictions and guidance from the Virginia Department of Education, up to three guests per graduate may attend the ceremony.
“The ceremonies will be livestreamed for loved ones who are unable to attend in person,” Gill said.
“Holding the ceremonies outside at the Meadow Event Park allows us to welcome all of our graduates and accommodate more guests at each ceremony than what would have been possible at each school’s football stadium, while also providing a safe environment,” he continued.
“We recognize that the number of guests is fewer than what is normally allowed at graduation. In these uncertain times, however, we are pleased to have crafted a plan that will allow our students to graduate together in front of as many friends and family as possible under the state’s current restrictions,” Gill said.
The superintendent concluded by saying, “We sincerely hope that this plan, which is outlined more below in an FAQ format, demonstrates our commitment to honoring the remarkable accomplishments of our Class of 2021 over the past 13 years in the best and safest way possible.”
More information will be provided in the coming weeks.
When and where will graduation be held?
We will conduct four in-person ceremonies total -- two each on Friday, June 18, and Saturday, June 19.
The schedule is as follows:
! Mechanicsville High School: Friday, June 18 at 9 a.m.
! Hanover High School: Friday, June 18 at 2:30 p.m.
! Patrick Henry High School: Saturday, June 19 at 9 a.m.
! Atlee High School: Saturday, June 19 at 2:30 p.m.
All four ceremonies will be held at the Meadow Event Park in the Festival Loop.
How will seating work?
Students will sit in a “pod” with their guests, which will help with the visibility of the stage while also maximizing the number of people permitted in the space. The pods will be spaced 10 feet apart. More details about this, ticketing, and other arrangements will be shared by your student’s school.
Will students still be individually recognized?
Yes. Each student’s name will be called and they will receive their diploma on stage before proceeding back to their designated pod.
Why are the ceremonies not at the four high schools?
We want to make sure as many people as possible have the opportunity to attend the ceremonies and celebrate our graduates. Holding the ceremonies at the Meadow Event Park allows us to do just that --maximizing the crowd size while maintaining a safe environment for all.
Furthermore, the 10-foot spacing required by the state between each graduate on the field and each guest in the stands quickly uses up the limited available space. The Meadow Event Park allows us to host two to three times as many attendees as our high school stadiums, permitting three guests per graduate. If the ceremonies were held at our high schools, only one guest per graduate would have been allowed in accordance with physical distancing requirements.
Why aren’t the ceremonies at the Siegel Center as in years past?
Indoor facilities such as the Siegel Center are limited to a total of 500 attendees, which would severely restrict the number of guests allowed per graduate.
What happens if there is inclement weather?
We are still developing plans for possible inclement weather, including holding indoor graduations in the Farm Bureau Building that stands next to the Festival Loop. We will communicate any changes to our plans as they are made.
Will we be able to take photos?
Yes. The Farm Bureau Building next to the Festival Loop will be set up for photos. The number of people allowed in the building at one time is limited, so we ask for your patience in this process.
I have other questions. Who should I reach out to?
We will continue to provide you with regular updates regarding graduation as they become available. For questions about graduation requirements, contact your school counselor. For questions about the ceremony, contact your school principal. Note, however, that we are still planning the ceremonies and will not have answers to every question at this moment.
Over the past 13 months, we have seen the resiliency of our students, especially our seniors. We know that this final year of high school has not been normal, but we are committed to honoring you in the coming weeks and months to make sure you feel special, unique, and valued.
Thank you for your continued patience as we finalize these plans.
Joining Gill in extending their “deepest gratitude” are: Jennifer Greif, assistant superintendent of Instructional Leadership; Dr. Robert Staley, director of Secondary Education; Dr. John Wheeler, principal, Atlee High School; Kristina Reece, principal, Hanover High School; Charles Stevens, principal, Mechanicsville High School; and Christopher Martinez, principal, Patrick Henry High School.