One of Hoover’s valedictorians not attending graduation despite school officials taking extra safety measures

Alabama News

HOOVER, Ala (WIAT) — Hoover City Schools has decided to move forward with its graduation ceremonies for Spain Park High School and Hoover High School Wednesday and Thursday.

School officials say they have been in communication with the Jefferson County Department of Health and the city of Hoover on this decision and how to make it safe for students and guests. Masks are going to be enforced in order to enter the Hoover MET and attend the graduation ceremony.

Kathy Murphy, superintendent of Hoover City Schools, said this is not a mandatory ceremony and if anyone feels uncomfortable, they can choose not to attend.

“All students will be celebrated, even those who choose not to come and we understand that but we will call their name, their name will appear on large Jumbotron,” Murphy said. “We will livestream for any of our families or students who are reluctant to be here so all our seniors will be celebrated, regardless of their choices for attendance.”

Jeanarry Rodriguez Hernandez, one of the 17 valedictorians for Hoover High, said she has decided not to attend her graduation because she believes it’s too soon for a gathering of this size due to COVID-19.

“I didn’t want to put my family in danger and a lot of my teachers and friends weren’t going so I didn’t feel it would be the graduation I was looking forward to anyway and I thought it’s not worth the risk and just to stay home,” Hernandez said.

Hernandez said she’s happy to see the school has added extra measures to keep everyone safe, such as enforcing rules requiring people to wear masks at the ceremonies, but she believes it’s going to be too hard to enforce people not hugging or gathering too close.

“For me, I know I’m going to have other graduations to look forward to and honestly I just value the education I got,” she said. “That’s the best thing I can get from school. It’s not the diploma itself and I think at the end of the day it’s about recognition and to be recognized for your efforts and I think that I’ve done that.”

Hoover City Schools is spacing graduates on the baseball field at a 6-foot distance. Students were provided only four guest tickets and those guests will sit in pods spaced out from other households and groups.

Students will be allowed to take off their masks during their stage walk and diploma hand-off photo. School officials said students will not be allowed to throw their cap after the ceremony, as is done traditionally.


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