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Columbia Graduation stage from June 2020EDITOR’S NOTE: New York State removed the mask mandate for outdoor school activities, which would include graduation ceremonies, effective June 7, 2021. This means masks are not required for Columbia High School graduation. However, students, staff and guests are free to wear masks if they so choose.

In response to recent changes to New York State guidelines for graduations, Columbia High School has modified its original plans for graduation. The new state guidelines allow for 500 guests at outdoor graduation ceremonies without COVID-19 testing or proof of vaccination. Therefore, Columbia will now host three graduation ceremonies on Friday, June 25 at the CHS turf field and each student may bring four guests to the event.

The first graduation ceremony is scheduled to start at 4:00 p.m. and each event is expected to run 60 minutes in duration. Families will receive a letter prior to graduation that will include the time of their child’s graduation ceremony, their parking location and a field map.

Graduation Ceremony Schedule

  • Graduation Ceremony 1 – 4:00 p.m.
  • Graduation Ceremony 2 – 5:45 p.m.
  • Graduation Ceremony 3 – 7:30 p.m.

Instead of sitting in the bleachers as originally planned, guests will now be seated in groups of four (4) and socially distanced on the turf field behind the graduates. Video screens will be placed on either side of the stage to ensure everyone is able to view the event.

The East Greenbush Central School District will livestream the event for friends, relatives and community members who are unable to attend the event due to restrictions on large group gatherings. The school will pre-record speeches and combine this with the three diploma ceremonies to provide each student with a full graduation video.

The district has been consulting with Questar BOCES and the Rensselaer County Health Department to ensure compliance with current public health guidelines.

In the event of rain, Columbia Graduation would be rescheduled to Saturday, June 26 at the same location (Graduation Ceremony 1, 9:00 a.m.; Graduation Ceremony 2, 10:45 a.m.; Graduation Ceremony 3, 12:30 p.m.). The decision to reschedule Graduation would be made by school administrators and communicated with parents via email and text alert.

Event Logistics/Safety Procedures

  • Three individual ceremonies with 116 graduates, and four guests, at each event
  • Only the graduate and four guests will be allowed on the campus
  • Students will be dropped off outside the main lobby entrance to Columbia and screened before reporting to the library
  • Students will be given their name card in the library and sent out to the access road to line-up for the procession
  • Security will be in parking lots and assist families as to when to enter and exit the field. We will close the gates between ceremonies to ensure the safety of everyone.
  • East Greenbush Police Department will be present on campus to help ensure safety protocols are followed
  • Students and parents must show attestation pass on their phones and have temperature checked to enter the stadium
  • COVID testing is not required for this event because the audience capacity (guests) will not reach 500 people
  • Students will sit in the 116 chairs on the field all socially distanced
  • Guests will sit on the field in pods of four chairs socially distanced. It is imperative that you remain in your seats throughout the event.
  • Hand sanitizing stations will be available upon entering the field
  • Seats and hand rails on the stage and bleachers will be cleaned between each ceremony
  • Masks are not required for Columbia High School graduation, according to state guidance issued June 7, 2021. However, students, staff and guests are free to wear masks if they so choose.

Ceremony

  • Traditional graduation music “Pomp and Circumstance” will play while students enter and exit the field
  • Each diploma ceremony will begin with the National Anthem, Pledge of Allegiance and a welcome address
  • Each row of students will be ushered to the stage where a 6-foot spacing marker will be clearly labeled for each student
  • Student names will be called then they can walk across the stage, and pause for a picture
  • A table will be located just off the stage to allow students to receive their diploma. Each diploma will be decoratively labeled, wrapped, and sealed for the safety of the students.
  • A photographer will be located off the stage to take a picture of the graduate with their diploma.
  • Students will return to their seats after receiving their diploma.
  • At the end of the ceremony, students will process back out to the parking lot. Guests should return to their cars in the parking lot, meet their students, and exit campus.
  • Each ceremony should take approximately 60 minutes, leaving time to sanitize chairs, bleachers and the stage while we reset for the next ceremony.
  • The ceremony may be watched live at the following link: https://egcsd.org/classof2021graduation

FAQ: Graduation

Q: When will students receive their cap and gowns?
A: Cap and gown distribution is scheduled for Friday, June 18  and Monday, June 21 during school. Seniors will also be returning their chromebooks at this time.  If your student has not ordered a cap and gown Jostens will be at Columbia on Friday, June 18 from 9:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. to accept orders.

Q: Is there a graduation rehearsal?
A: No, there is no planned graduation rehearsal for this year’s ceremony.

Q: Will students be receiving tickets for this year’s graduation?
A: Tickets will not be dispersed this year. Due to the state’s strict regulations for socially distanced graduation ceremonies, only the graduate and four guests are permitted on campus for this year’s diploma ceremony.

Q: What is the length of the graduation ceremony?
A: Each ceremony will last approximately 60 minutes.

Q: What should students wear under their robes?
A: Appropriate attire should be worn under the student’s gown. Light colored dress attire should be worn (dresses/dress pants). Students need to climb and descend stairs and appropriate footwear should be worn. Flip-flops are not appropriate and have caused students to fall down the stairs in past ceremonies.

Q: What time do graduates and their parents need to be at Columbia High School for the graduation ceremony?
A: Graduates and their parents should arrive 15 minutes before the start of their assigned diploma ceremony. A letter will be sent to families the week prior to graduation.

Q: Do students or their parents need a negative COVID test to attend graduation?
A: No. In compliance with New York State Department of Health regulations, the audience size (guests) will stay under 500 people.

Q: Are face masks required at graduation?
A: No. New York State removed the mask mandate for outdoor school activities, which would include graduation ceremonies, effective June 7, 2021. This means masks are not required for Columbia High School graduation. However, students, staff and guests are free to wear masks if they so choose.

Q: What are the parking procedures?
A: Families will be assigned parking spaces and should follow directions of event staff.

Q: What happens if it rains?
A: In the event of rain, Columbia Graduation would be rescheduled to Saturday, June 26 at the same location (Graduation Ceremony 1, 9:00 a.m.; Graduation Ceremony 2, 10:45 a.m.; Graduation Ceremony 3, 12:30 p.m.). The decision to reschedule Graduation would be made by school administrators and communicated with parents via email and text alert.

Q: When will students in the National Honors Society (NHS) receive their gold cords?
A: Students will receive their gold cords with their caps and gowns.