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State paves way for high school seniors to graduate

No in-person ceremonies will be held, but some districts are planning other ways to honor seniors.

Posted: Apr 9, 2020 6:14 PM
Updated: Apr 9, 2020 6:16 PM

EUGENE, Ore.-- The State of Oregon's "Graduation Pathways 2020" plan means that most high school seniors who were on track to graduate will still be on track, but some are mourning the loss of graduation traditions.

Though state officials canceled in-person classes through the end of the spring term Wednesday, they also loosened graduation requirements to ensure that students in all school districts can reach their goals.

Classes for seniors this term should be graded on a pass-fail basis, according to officials. Students scoring As through Ds earned in the current term through the date of the school closure will receive a pass, while those scoring Fs have until the end of August to improve.

Sheldon High School senior Jonah White will be beginning distance learning on Monday. He believes most students will be able to achieve graduation, even with much of the learning online.

"I'm much more prone to distraction when I'm sitting in my home in front of a screen. I don't think it's going to be as effective in terms of education, but it's still going to work," White said.

For many districts, it's still unclear if events like prom or graduation ceremonies will be held online in some form.

MORE: GOV. BROWN ORDERS ALL SCHOOLS TO REMAIN CLOSED THROUGH SCHOOL YEAR

Sheldon senior Noah Davis said he is appreciative of support from administrators, but online events will not replace the lost memories.

"Prom's probably the biggest thing for me. I was looking forward to going to that, my second prom. Graduation's a big one. Bummed I can't walk, wear the cap and gown," he said.

Some schools are trying to fill in the gap with small gestures of recognition for seniors.

Thurston High School is joining schools statewide, including in Corvallis and Junction City, who will be turning on lights at their football stadiums for 20 minutes on Friday at 8:20 p.m. -- 2020 in military time. 

Sheldon High School senior Bella McNutt said that nobody can take away their momentous achievement.

"Teachers and parents and students, everyone have been doing a really great job of being extremely emotionally supportive of us and making sure that we do realize that whether or not we get a graduation we did do the work," she said.

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