DODEA-Pacific schools plan in-person ceremonies to supplement virtual graduations

Balloons festoon the Seoul American High School graduation on June 10, 2017, at Yongsan Garrison, South Korea. Virtual graduations this year are being augmented by in-person, optional ceremonies at most DODEA-Pacific schools next month.


By DAVE ORNAUER | STARS AND STRIPES Published: May 22, 2020

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Defense Department high schools in the Pacific are planning limited, in-person graduation ceremonies as some U.S. military bases start to loosen restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus, a spokeswoman said Friday.

The in-person ceremonies will complement the official, online graduation ceremonies planned around the pandemic by Department of Defense Education Activity-Pacific, said DODEA-Pacific spokeswoman Miranda Ferguson.

Attendance at in-person ceremonies is optional, guests will be limited and social distancing enforced, she said.

The additional ceremonies will vary “based on local environmental conditions and strictly adhere to health and safety guidance,” Ferguson said. “Once finalized, principals are sharing their graduation plans with parents, students and the community.”

The announcement that additional graduation ceremonies are planned comes a day after DODEA-Pacific said some schools in South Korea are planning optional year-end activities.

While restrictions remain tight at most bases in Japan, the U.S. military in South Korea lowered its health protection condition status and allowed its personnel to return to sit-down restaurants and other activities, as long as social distancing and other measures remain enforced.

Ferguson said high school principals are working with their district administration and base commanders to plan actual ceremonies.

Guam High School and Kadena and Kubasaki high schools on Okinawa are planning drive-through celebrations at their respective schools, Ferguson said.

Three schools are planning gatherings at base facilities: Humphreys High School at Collier Field House, Camp Humphreys, South Korea; Nile C. Kinnick High School at Berkey Field, Yokosuka Naval Base, Japan; and Robert D. Edgren Middle/High School at an aircraft hangar on Misawa Air Base, Japan.

In South Korea, Daegu Middle/High School is planning a ceremony in the school commons, which also serves as the cafeteria. Osan High School at Osan Air Base is holding a ceremony on the school’s football field.

In Japan, Zama American Middle/High School is planning a small-group celebration in the school auditorium. E.J. King High School is planning an outdoor ceremony at Nimitz Park on Sasebo Naval Base, Yokota High School at its football field and Matthew C. Perry in its school auditorium at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni.

Twitter: @DaveOrnauer

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