Mississippi high school announces drive-in graduation
BAY ST. LOUIS, Miss. (WLOX/Gray News) – Officials at Bay St. Louis-Waveland School District have announced a plan to honor the Class of 2020 who are graduating this semester.
Following the closure of schools for the remainder of the academic year, many districts are developing plans to celebrate graduation.
Kolby Furr, class president and Mr. Bay High, didn’t expect March 13 to be the last day of his senior year. However, he’s thankful the school district has come up with an alternate way to celebrate graduation.
“Found out yesterday that we walked the halls of Bay High for our last time, so that was pretty hard,” he said.
Bay-Waveland is the first in South Mississippi to announce its plan, which includes a drive-in commencement ceremony, a parade of Jeeps, tents for each individual student, and all of the pomp and circumstance the district is able to do while still staying within the social distancing guidelines.
The Bay High graduation is set for Friday, May 22, 2020.
“We’re going to put all graduates in their own jeep. We’re going to drive them into the football stadium, kind of old-fashion drive-in style, and we’re going to speak and broadcast from up in the press box,” said Bay-Waveland Superintendent Sandra Reed.
Graduates and their parents will park in the Bay High parking lot, where someone driving a Jeep – or a “volunteer Jeeper” as the district calls them – will pick the student and his parents up. The Jeep will take the senior to the football stadium.
Once all the Jeeps are parked, everyone will remain in their vehicles while the administration, valedictorian and salutatorian deliver their commencement speeches. Similar to an old-fashioned drive-in movie, the district will broadcast the speeches on public radio. It will also be broadcast on Facebook Live.
Once the speeches are over, the procession of Jeeps will travel to the Bay-Waveland School District viewing area, where each senior will be given his diploma and professionally photographed. This moment would also be streamed live.
Then, the district will give each student a baseball cap to wear in place of their graduation cap as the seniors get back in their Jeeps, making sure the hats don’t blow off as the parade continues down Highway 90.
The vehicles will then travel down Highway 90 in the westbound lane. Each graduate will have their own tent that can be decorated with signs celebrating their achievements. Those tents will be allowed to have up to 10 people, with 4-5 parking spaces next to each tent for the student’s loved ones.
As each graduate arrives at their tent, they will be greeted by friends and family who can make as much noise as possible to celebrate and quickly snap a few pics.
Danae Fowley, vice president of the class, looked forward to all the fun that comes along with senior year.
“It’s all about you going out. You’re about to go in the real world but you have that last moment to have your fun with your peers, your classmates and people all around you. The world is basically yours as a senior,” Fowley expressed.
The parade will continue to pass a viewing stand in Bay St. Louis and another one in Waveland, which will have city, county, and state officials that typically attend graduation ceremonies.
The Jeeps will then return to the Bay High parking lot, where graduates and their parents can return to their vehicles.