"The Governor’s mandate to continue social distancing also means that graduation ceremonies, as we know them, will not be possible this year. ASD leadership is actively exploring a range of options to honor our graduating seniors and to provide them the celebration they deserve. Once we have a more complete picture, we will share the various ways we will honor our seniors’ tremendous accomplishments. I’m confident our community will come together and make this event special. It won’t be the same, but it will be special."
- Dr. Deena Bishop, Superintendent
Dear Students and Families of the Class of 2020:
When Governor Dunleavy announced on April 9 the extended closure of schools through the end of the year, although it wasn’t really a surprise to many of us given the circumstances, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of sadness once it became official. I am mostly saddened because you, our seniors, are losing the opportunity to participate in so many of the traditional milestones and celebrations that accompany the end of the year--graduation chief among them.
We know graduation is an extremely important event for seniors, their families, and our whole community, so my team immediately began working to see what we could put together to celebrate your accomplishments in grand fashion, despite the fact that we cannot host face-to-face graduation ceremonies at this time. I asked each principal to put together a small committee of students, parents, and staff to discuss some options in lieu of a traditional graduation ceremony. These discussions generated so many fantastic ideas. Thank you! From those great ideas, we put together a comprehensive plan to celebrate the Class of 2020. I am excited to share this plan with you and highlight the variety of ways we will honor you, our graduates, in the coming weeks.
Commemorative Graduation Videos
We have a video production team working with our schools to create a graduation video for each high school. These videos will include many of the traditional elements of an ASD graduation, including student speeches, a roll call with a picture of each graduate, and the acceptance of the graduating class. We hope families will plan mini in-house graduation celebrations around the release of these videos. A version of each school’s graduation video will be aired on local television. A longer, more extensive version of each video will be posted to YouTube shortly after graduation week for families to watch and share with others. We expect the shorter versions of these videos to start airing on TV the weekend leading up to graduation.
In addition to working with local TV news stations, we have partnered with local radio stations to showcase the Class of 2020. Local radio stations will set aside days to highlight different schools and their graduates with lots of on-air highlights, audio excerpts from the graduation videos, and individual graduate shoutouts. Once the schedules for these programs are set, we will share the information with you so you can plan to tune in.
Graduation Memorabilia Boxes
We are providing each senior with a graduation memorabilia box filled with lots of good stuff: your diploma cover, any program and honor cords you’ve earned, certificates and awards, letters of congratulations, and gifts from your school and from the larger community.
We are providing an 18 x 24-inch yard sign for every senior in ASD. The sign will include your school mascot and school colors, a congratulatory message, and space for you to write in your name. These signs will come with a wood stake so you can proudly display your sign in your front yard or hang it in a window. We want our community to see you and recognize your academic accomplishments.
Adobe Spark Graduation Websites
Each high school homepage will feature an Adobe Spark interactive webpage that highlights pictures, videos, and accomplishments for the Class of 2020.
Social Media Campaign
We are asking parents and the community to help us highlight and celebrate our ASD graduates on social media. As people post pictures and affirmations for our graduates, we are asking them to include #ASDClassOf2020. Help us celebrate each grad by sharing these posts on social media.
We plan to set up senior days at our high schools starting the week of May 11 running through May 21, 2020 in order to distribute the yard signs and graduation memorabilia boxes. Because we have to still follow strict social distancing guidelines during this municipal hunker down period, schools will reach out to seniors to schedule individual times for each senior to come to the building to pick up their senior items. We encourage seniors to wear their cap and gown on these days. We are working with local photography companies to have a photo backdrop where graduates can snap a quick picture with their diploma cover that they can then share out to family and friends and with us using the link above. More specific information will be provided soon about the dates, times, and required protocols for these senior pick-up days.
In closing, please know we are extremely proud of the accomplishments of our 2020 graduates. While our plans are not what any of us expected, we celebrate all of your hard-earned diplomas and are looking forward to hearing about all the great things you accomplish in your future. All of us at ASD wish you all the best as you transition into adulthood!
Dr. Kersten Johnson-Struempler
Sr. Director of Secondary Education
Anchorage School District