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PRAIRIE GROVE — Prairie Grove High will send off its Class of 2020 with an invitation only graduation ceremony at 2 p.m. today in Tiger Arena.

Mandy Hunt, high school counselor, said the seniors voted in the spring on whether they wanted a virtual graduation in May or to wait later and have an in-person graduation. Seniors overwhelmingly wanted graduation to be in person, she said.

“We’ve tried very hard to do what we can so these kids can celebrate,” Hunt said. “They’ve missed out on a lot. We want to make it as normal as possible because graduation is for the families too.”

Prairie Grove’s tradition is to hold commencement at Tiger football stadium. Hunt said the decision was made to move graduation to the basketball arena because the school can seat more people in the basketball gym, as compared to the number who can be seated in the football bleachers.

Looking at social distancing, as required for the ceremony, the school can only count what the bleachers will hold, Hunt said. The football field may seem like it has a lot more space but when it comes to seating, it doesn’t, she added.

The Class of 2020 has about 126 graduates, though Hunt said she does not expect all will be at the program. At least two have already left to serve in the military, she said.

Hunt said the program will include graduate Alex Edmiston, who will address his classmates, and musical presentations from graduates Atticus Warren and Megan Cunningham. Class president Aniyah Gibbs will lead the Pledge of Allegiance, sing the National Anthem and sing the school’s alma mater.

Former Principal Ron Bond, who has resigned to go back into the classroom, also will speak to the graduating class.

Hunt said senior awards will be announced and those graduates will stand in place to be recognized, along with seniors who received medals for having a 4.0 or above grade point average.

Graduates will have six tickets to invite guests, and the school district is implementing many restrictions and guidelines for safety because of covid-19. School personnel will be on site to make sure guidelines are followed.

The facility, including seating, will be cleaned and sanitized before and after the event.

Graduates will be spaced out by six feet on the gym floor and family members will be in the stands. The school required graduates to submit an RSVP questionnaire so seats could be assigned for family members.

Household groups will be shown to their seats by ushers and all guests 10 years and older will be required to wear masks. Household groups will sit together with six feet maintained between each group in the bleachers. For additional safety, every other row in the bleachers will be skipped.

Hand sanitizer stations will be available in the arena for guests and the podium and microphone will be sanitized between each speaker during the graduation ceremony.

Graduates also will be required to wear a face covering at all times, except when they are receiving their diplomas.

Lynn Kutter may be reached by email at [email protected] .

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