Most York County schools plan traditional graduation ceremonies to end the year

Erin Bamer
York Dispatch
Crispus Attucks Charter School graduation ceremony in York City, Friday, July 24, 2020. Dawn J. Sagert photo

After a tumultuous school year defined largely by the COVID-19 pandemic, most local schools are planning traditional graduation ceremonies. 

Thousands of York County students will graduate high school in the coming weeks. As statewide safety protocols have gradually relaxed, a majority of county schools hope to hold commencement ceremonies close to how ceremonies were held before the pandemic.

A majority of local schools are opting to hold one ceremony with several safety protocols still in place, such as mandatory masking and social distancing. Most schools are also limiting the number of tickets each graduate can offer to friends and family to control capacity. 

A handful of schools, including York Suburban High School, Northeastern High School and the York County School of Technology, are holding multiple graduation ceremonies in order to limit the size of the events — an option many more schools followed last year near the beginning of the pandemic. Some schools also held graduation ceremonies later in the year, or held them virtually, but most York County schools aren't returning to these methods this year. 

York Suburban High School will hold four mini ceremonies for up to 60 students each May 22 and May 23, with a larger graduation ceremony May 24, according to the school's website. The York County School of Technology will hold two ceremonies June 8 at the York Expo Center. 

Keith Downs, principal of South Western High School, said his school was also planning on splitting its graduation into two ceremonies. When Gov. Tom Wolf announced last week that the state would lift most of its COVID-19 requirements on Memorial Day, Downs said school officials decided to merge the ceremonies into one. 

"I think this is what the community wants," Downs said. 

More:State to lift COVID-19 requirements on school closures, event limitations starting May 31

More:Friday update: One new COVID-19 death reported in York County

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced this week that people who are fully vaccinated may forgo masks in most public spaces. Despite the announcement, Downs said South Western High School will still mandate masks for the ceremony. 

Spring Grove Area High School also is hosting one traditional graduation ceremony with masking and social distancing requirements, but Principal Dave Dietrich said that could change if state guidance continues to relax. Dietrich said he is happy that his school can offer an in-person ceremony for its graduates, given that at the start of the year, many education officials doubted whether any school buildings would even keep their classrooms open. 

"We have a lot to be proud of," Dietrich said. 

Graduation ceremonies:

York Catholic High School: 7 p.m. Friday, May 21, at St. Joseph's Catholic Church, 2935 Kingston Road

York Suburban High School: 7 p.m. Monday, May 24, on campus, 1800 Hollywood Drive

Spring Grove Area High School: 7 p.m. Thursday, May 27, at Papermaker Stadium, 1490 Roths Church Road

Hanover Senior High School: 7 p.m. Thursday, May 27, on campus, 401 Moul Ave.

Susquehannock High School: 7 p.m. Thursday, May 27, on campus, 3280 Fissels Church Road

Central York High School: 6:45 p.m. Friday, May 28, on campus, 601 Mundis Mill Road

Northeastern High School: 10 a.m. Friday, May 28, on campus, 300 High St.

Red Land High School: Time yet to be determined Thursday, June 3, at West Shore Stadium, 1301 Carlisle Road

Cedar Cliff High School: Time yet to be determined Friday, June 4, at West Shore Stadium, 1301 Carlisle Road

Crispus Attucks Charter School: 5 p.m. Friday, June 4, on campus, 605 S Duke St.

South Western High School: 7 p.m. Friday, June 4, on campus, 200 Bowman Road

West York Area High School: 7 p.m. Friday, June 4, on campus, 1800 Bannister St.

Dover Area High School: 9 a.m. Saturday, June 5, on campus, 4500 Intermediate Ave.

Dallastown Area High School: 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 8, on campus, 700 New School Lane

York County School of Technology: 5 p.m., 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 8, at the York Expo Center, 334 Carlisle Ave. 

Eastern York High School: 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 8, on campus, 720 Cool Creek Road

Northern High School: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 8, on campus, 653 South Baltimore St.

Kennard-Dale High School: 7 p.m. Wednesday, June 9, on campus, 393 Main St. 

William Penn Senior High School: 7 p.m. Thursday, June 10, at the York Expo Center, 334 Carlisle Ave.