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West Shore School District holds out hope for in-person graduation before Aug. 1

Two hundred and sixty-six Red Land High School students graduated Saturday morning during exercises at the Pennsylvania State Farm Show complex. Bil Bowden photo

West Shore will hold an in-person graduation ceremony this summer, if restrictions allow, officials announced Friday evening.

Considering rapid changes in the pandemic, including York County's move to yellow — the second phase of the governor's plan to reopen the state that removes stay-at-home orders — the district opted to hold out for a traditional ceremony.

Two-thirds of the senior class responded to a survey sent out by the district, and 83% of them said they would prefer an in-person graduation over a virtual one.

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"The last thing we want to do is cancel or postpone another event you had hoped for," said Superintendent Todd Stoltz in a Friday update.

By not selecting a date just yet, he said, officials can continue to watch regulations and see if an in-person commencement is possible.

To do this, Stoltz said the graduation would have to be held no later than Aug. 1. Special arrangements would be made for students who could not attend. They would receive their diplomas in the presence of school administrators and their family.

On June 6 — what would have been their graduation day — seniors will receive a senior showcase video featuring each student individually. The videos will be available to view at 10 a.m. that day.

Notice of an in-person ceremony will be given by July 4, or alternate plans will be announced at that time. Those plans might include photos of students receiving their diplomas compiled with speeches into a virtual graduation video.

"It is our intent to hold the in-person ceremony if at all possible, even if multiple sessions with smaller groups of students is required," Stoltz said.