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Graduates prepare to celebrate at last year's Hamilton County High commencement ceremony. This year's graduation has been postponed.

JASPER — The Hamilton County High Class of 2020 should be preparing for graduation.

The HCHS commencement ceremony was scheduled for next week, May 22.

However, the Hamilton County School District officially postponed graduation Tuesday afternoon with Superintendent of Schools Rex Mitchell citing the need to follow the guidelines from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention as well as the executive orders from Gov. Ron DeSantis limiting public gatherings for the postponement.

“I have learned in my many years of working in the Hamilton School District that it is of the utmost importance for family members to be allowed to attend the graduation ceremony without limitations,” Mitchell said in a statement. “I am determined to provide a dignified ceremony that will allow for everyone who would like to attend and celebrate with their graduate.”

While other districts have announced alternative forms of commencement ceremonies, Mitchell said he believes it is worth waiting for the graduates to experience a traditional ceremony.

“I appreciate how other school districts have been creative with organizing a graduation for their students while maintaining limited attendance and social distancing,” he added in the statement. “I will make every effort to have the ceremony as usual on the football field with a full house of proud relatives and friends.”

The district’s plan calls for a date to be set once DeSantis lifts the current guidelines restricting the size of public gatherings. Mitchell said a minimum of two weeks’ notice will be provided as to the date once it is set so that guests can make plans to attend.

In addition to graduation, a seniors honors program will be held the Monday night of graduation week with baccalaureate set for Thursday night with commencement on the Friday at 8 p.m.

In the event of inclement weather on Friday night, graduation will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday morning on the football field. Inclement weather on Saturday morning will force graduation inside the HCHS gymnasium where graduates will be given 10 tickets to distribute to their guests. Each graduate will have two specially designated tickets which will allow their holder admittance to Graduation regardless of the time they are presented for entrance into the gymnasium.

“I greatly appreciate the cooperation of Principal (Donald) Harrison, the HCHS staff, and the Class of 2020 in working through this unprecedented situation,” Mitchell said. “Our graduates deserve a special night for all their hard work over these past years.”

An official announcement from the school district will be made once the date for graduation has been set.

Kara M. Compo is a reporter for the Suwannee Democrat, Jasper News and Mayo Free Press. Her beats include general assignment, government, politics, law enforcement and first responders. ​

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