Community, Education, Latest News

Mon County high school seniors given graduation choices

Never mind that English paper you forgot to turn in for that big, big grade.

Or those student fees you never quite got around to paying.

For high school seniors packing in their final year in the face of a pandemic, turning the tassel has never been more a hassle.

Don’t talk to Donna Talerico about the “hassle” part.

Talerico, the assistant superintendent of schools for Monongalia County, wants Mon’s collective Class of 2020 to be able to walk across that stage this spring.

She wants seniors shaking hands with their principals, scooping up their diplomas and mugging for the smartphone video.

“There’s nothing we’d like better,” she said, “but now we have to look at everything.”

That’s “everything,” as pertaining to commencement and the coronavirus.

Mon’s high school seniors this past Friday received a survey that went out over the district’s Schoology messaging service.

“We want to hear what they think,” Talerico said.

“We prefaced it by saying that while we of course prefer a traditional ceremony, these are some options our seniors may have to consider.”

Such as a drive-by “diploma-grab,” as it were.

The car pulls up in the school driveway, and the senior, clad in cap and gown, steps out for the presentation, which is captured by a professional photographer.

A second option is a somewhat traditional gathering in the school auditorium — one graduate at a time and with no family allowed, in keeping with social distancing.

The personal delivery of your diploma by your principal or assistant principal is the third option, Talerico said.

The handoff would happen outside your house, again with a photographer present.

“That’s something our principals volunteered to do,” Talerico said.

Option No. 4, she said, is pure, pandemic separation: Your diploma, delivered by certified mail.

The survey is available through this morning, Talerico said.

Jade Mayle, a senior at University High School, said she understands the above are all options.

She understands and sympathizes with the district that has to front such options, just in case.

Even so, she said, she would prefer a delayed ceremony, once the country is able to emerge.

That’s so the once-and-future WVU mechanical and aerospace engineer can walk across that stage and launch her cap at the end.

That’s so her close-knit family, which before now had never missed an occasion to get together, can whoop and yell in response.

“It’s just that the options seem a little cold,” she said. “And senior year is gone.”

Prom, gone, she said.

The senior trip, too.

Probably a traditional last day of school, also, she said.

One of the things she misses most is the mentoring program that she was part of for middle schools.

“All of our projects and competitions had to be canceled,” she said.

Senior year for her is keeping communion with the goats and other livestock on her family’s farm in outlying Mon County.

“We have about 50 acres,” she said. “Schoolwork in the morning, goats in the afternoon.”

Talerico said she’s tired of the pandemic getting everyone’s goat.

“We want to celebrate our seniors,” she said.

“We want to honor them. And there are a lot of ways you can do that in the digital world.”

 TWEET @DominionPostWV