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Bartlett High School seniors take part in non-traditional in-person graduation ceremony

Seniors were allowed to have five immediate family members each to see them walk across the stage to receive their diplomas

BARTLETT, Tennessee —

COVID-19 has forced many local school districts to get creative when it comes to graduation ceremonies. Thursday, Houston High School held a virtual graduation for seniors, and Bartlett High School held graduation ceremonies in their newly built auditorium Wednesday and Thursday. The effort was in accordance with social distancing guidelines.

Bartlett High School senior parents and families were pleased with the ceremonies and said they all ran very organized. It’s no doubt being a high school senior during the pandemic has been tough.

“I don’t get to experience what past seniors have experienced. I don’t have a prom, or don’t get to take a big senior class picture, it’s just been a little hard,” said Sydney Harville, a Bartlett High School senior.

However, Thursday brought a little light to Harville and her group of friends, as they received their diplomas in front of their families.

“We started a couple of weeks ago looking at how we could pull this off and this has gone better than I could imagine,” said Dr. David Stephens, Superintendent of Bartlett City Schools.

A senior was allowed to bring a limit of 5 immediate family members to witness their milestone. Staff broke up the ceremony by homerooms, two home rooms per hour, over two days. Only a handful of families were allowed inside of the auditorium. The other families were spread out in the common areas.

“The family gets to go right down on the front row, we hold the graduate. We call their name, the family is on the front row. They are able to take pictures. They’re able to video it. They are getting a better view that they’ve ever gotten at any graduation,” Stephens said.

“I was very happy I was able to walk across the stage  because it is such a big moment that deserves to be recognized,” said Makayla Forman, a Bartlett High School senior.

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Although it was a non-traditional way of graduating, the ladies were just thankful to have that moment.

“I like that Bartlett gave us the opportunity to walk across the stage even though it wasn’t the normal way, I mean they still tried and I thank them for that because that’s all I wanted to do,” senior Zoe Jackson said.

“It means a lot that I can spend it with my friends and graduate with them,” said Bartlett High School senior Autumn Newberry.

The entire graduation will be streamed on May 28 so everyone can view it.