Graduation on hold for some county seniors

By Jeff Shultz

Managing Editor

The landscape around the Garvin County Courthouse will be a little different next week.

Individual photos of all 120 Pauls Valley High School seniors will go on display on the courthouse lawn.

“We want to get them up by this Monday,” said Heather Edwards, an organizer of the project.

The special recognition is the brainchild of several senior parents and teachers after the COVID-19 pandemic put a halt to all school activities, including prom and commencement ceremonies.

“It really started with social media messages between the parents,” Edwards said.

“We really liked what some towns were doing to honor their seniors and we started sharing different ideas with each other,” she added.

Edwards presented the idea to the Garvin County Commissioners last Monday during their regular meeting. The commissioners granted the request unanimously.

Edwards said decorating the courthouse lawn with the senior photos is not meant to replace a traditional commencement ceremony.

“It’s my understanding the school is planning on having a traditional graduation ceremony but they haven’t set on a date yet,” she said.

Two county school districts have rolled the dice and have planned commencement ceremonies in July.

A prom is being planned in Maysville on July 2 with Baccalaureate set for July 12 and Graduation on July 17.

In Wynnewood a prom is scheduled for July 10 with Graduation set for July 18.

Stratford schools are planning on having a commencement ceremony sometime this summer.

“We sent surveys out to the seniors and gave them three options to choose from, with one option cancelling the ceremony all together and the other two were possible dates for the ceremony,” said Stratford Superintendent of Schools Michael Blackburn.

Blackburn said his office hasn’t heard back from all the students but those who have replied to the survey have indicated they want a commencement ceremony.

Elmore City, Lindsay, Paoli and Vanoss all have said they have no plans in place yet for a graduation exercise.

“We are still waiting to see what guidance is given from the Governor’s Office before we set dates for anything,” said EC-P Superintendent Jennifer Cruz.