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Planned Graduation Program for May 31, 2020 - New Info!


Northwestern graduates, parents, families, staff, and community, I wanted to share our planned graduation program for May 31st, 2020 beginning at 1:00PM.

We decided to offer three possible options to our graduates because this is all about you, graduates!  This graduation plan is the result of these student surveys.

This year’s Northwestern Graduation will begin at 1:00PM and likely take 6 or more hours to complete.  Students and family members will enter the North MS Parking lot, be line-up in alphabetical order and drive to the front of the high school.  Each student/family vehicle will receive a number to display in their vehicles to help organize - based off alphabetical order but easier to quickly identify and organize.

Need to decide how/when to distribute caps and gowns. They just arrived yesterday. They will want those in advance of the week before for their scheduled photo ops throughout that week. 

Graduate and family members (8 total permitted counting the graduate) will exit the vehicle(s) and enter the NW entrance into the gymnasium.  The graduate and family members will walk across the stage, receive your diploma, other awards, and scholarship materials, then exit the SW gymnasium entrance, enter the car(s) and drive off.  Acting Principal Randall Hafner and Superintendent Jeff Layton will distribute the diplomas.  We will need to keep this flowing efficiently, so families, please take speedy photos of the awarding of the diploma only on this date.

Additional items of clarification:

=          it is recommended that graduates and family members desiring pictures in front of the high

school or inside the commons area make an appointment with the high school office the week prior to graduation and get these.  This way picture taking in front of the high school on graduation day will not be slowed

=            is essential that individuals remain in your vehicles throughout – with the exception of when you are receiving your diploma

=            we will have SRO Deputy Adam Chellis, school administrators, and staff keeping people in vehicles and moving the traffic along, our class advisors will be arranging vehicles in alphabetical order

=         we will schedule dates and times for Valedictorian, Salutatorian, Senior Class President,

       Guest Speaker, Randall, myself to record speeches and take pics and video to include in the

       video and make available later

=         we will have Ed Marty taking graduation pics on hand during diploma hand-off

=         we will video the diploma hand-off

=         we plan on live-streaming the all-day event so extended family can view and we will create

       a graduation video compiling all of this to distribute afterwards

=            it is likely many students and families will have two vehicles, which will run side-by-side in the line

=            Diplomas are at the school and caps & gowns have arrived.  HS communications on distribution of caps and gowns for next week

Prior to graduation date:

=         students will receive a communication of the suggested time of arrival – this is so students and families are not committing 6+ consecutive hours waiting in line in vehicles

=         those students with speeches will be scheduled to record their speeches the week prior to the graduation event.  These will be compiled in the video, as well as other elements of a traditional graduation ceremony

Several other things Northwestern has done or is planning:

=        coordinated the ongoing senior facebook postings

=        arranging graduate yard signs

=        next fall or winter – homecoming event where seniors are recognized, free entrance, and can

      throw their caps together onto the Gym Floor or onto the Football field or another activity as

      permitted by the Health Dept. and within state guidelines at that time

Additional event suggestions outside of this graduation itself can certainly be coordinated by our parents or post-prom committee – examples might include:

=        a prom parade and put on a large screen (if they have one) where seniors and prom date

      could dress-up and drive around the community, then come together on the track at drag-way

      42 and get out individually for a pic for a type of grand March

=        a video from graduation and put on a large screen at Dragway 42 (if they have one) or at a

      drive-in theatre

=         possibly coordinate an event at Dragway 42 where seniors and prom date could dress-up and drive around the track and get out individually for a pic for a type of grand March.

=       there may be other ideas as well – would like to keep many of these suggestions as outside

      things organized by parents with our guidance and communication help.  The main reason is 

      because of liability, but also the anticipated difficulty managing potential hugging, proximity,

      and congregating with the current state restrictions

Please watch for further, more detailed information coming from Northwestern High School regarding our Class of 2020 Northwestern Graduation!

I am so disappointed that we were unable to hold a traditional graduation ceremony and prom for our senior students.  I continue to believe that an outdoor graduation ceremony could have been done safely.  However, that stadium proposal – even with protocol and safeguards was rejected.  This is the best we think we can do considering the circumstances.  I, nonetheless, look forward to and will be proud to shake each of your hands at graduation (with an appropriate amount of hand sanitizer between each person).  

-          Northwestern Superintendent Jeff Layton




Senior students and parents,

I sincerely share my disappointment regarding this news about our graduation ceremony.  We all want to honor our graduates and recognize their achievements in a graduation celebration.  However, after discussing for weeks within a state-wide task force with the Ohio Dept. of Education which advises the governor on school pandemic issues on which I serve, speaking with the Wayne County Health Director directly, and even pleading with Governor DeWine personally we are not permitted to hold a traditional graduation – even if it were outside at the stadium with social distancing and with precautions and multiple safety measures.

We had previously developed a tentative plan for holding graduation outside at the stadium, with safeguard and precautions that I kept trying to get approval for.  I received a firm “no” this past week. The major inhibiting rule is that we are not permitted to have any event or social gathering having more than 10 people present and the health Dept. (which retains jurisdiction) was very clear on this. 

We have several options which are being considered – the most optimistic seemingly including pre-recording speeches, scheduling graduates and a limited number of family members (possibly up to 6) to come into the High School gym at scheduled times to receive diplomas, awards, and scholarship materials and take a picture.  We would video this and pull it all together into a single video to be shared later.  We will also have a photographer available.  I did get permission from our Health Dept. to allow this limited number of family members to enter the gym with the graduate – one family at a time.

There will be a couple of other possibilities presented to our seniors as well as this one.  The general graduation options are listed below (as well as on the Ohio Dept. of Education website) from which we will craft different options for our seniors.  It is their graduation after all – so they should choose.  Regardless of the structure and method we expect to hold graduation on our originally scheduled date of Sunday, May 31. 

Our next step is to lay-out a few options to our seniors, along with a survey, and allow them to choose what they would like within the parameters which we have been given.  Such a survey will go out to our seniors on Monday via google e-mail accounts.  Our plan is to share a detailed plan by this Friday, May 8th, which we will then post on our website, social media, and via text alert.

The state guidelines also make the possibility of any prom event very unlikely as well.  We continue discussing alternative ways to honor and recognize our graduates.

I am devastated by this news, as are our graduates, parents and families.  Our graduates deserve a traditional graduation with all the trimmings.

Blessings to you all,

Jeffrey N. Layton
Northwestern Superintendent of Schools

ODH Statement
download the statement here

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7571 North Elyria Road, West Salem, OH 44287 | Phone: (419) 846-3151 | Fax: (419) 846-3361
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