East Carteret High School seniors to graduate Friday

East Carteret High School seniors, from left, Savannah Salter, Kevin McLeod and Payal Shah are among seniors who will graduate Friday from the school. The seniors are among a group who opted to wait until July in hopes of being able to have a group ceremony. (Cheryl Burke photo)

UPDATE, 1:44 p.m. Thursday, July 9, 2020: Based on field conditions and the weather forecast, East Carteret High School senior adviser Tammy Schooley said Thursday afternoon graduation will take place as planned at 6:30 p.m. Friday on the football field.

BEAUFORT — About 70 East Carteret High School seniors who are scheduled to graduate at 6:30 p.m. Friday in a socially distanced, outdoor ceremony on the school’s football field are watching the weather to see if their wait until July was worth it.

If rain moves commencement inside, each senior will receive their diploma in the school’s auditorium in an individual ceremony with only immediate family members present due to novel coronavirus restrictions. If needed, those ceremonies will be held between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m.

ECHS senior adviser Tammy Schooley said Wednesday the decision on which ceremony will take place will be made by 1 p.m. Thursday.

The decision will be made “based on field and stadium conditions and the weather forecast for Friday,” Ms. Schooley said.

It’s been a gamble and a wait for the group of seniors that opted to wait until July in hopes of having a group ceremony versus the individualized ceremony held June 5 in the auditorium for 43 other seniors and their families.

The school allowed seniors and their families to vote on which ceremony they preferred to participate in.

ECHS senior Kevin McLeod said Tuesday he decided to wait for the second ceremony because he “wanted something similar to a graduation I was expecting to have. I wanted it to be more inclusive and something I could celebrate with other people.”

Senior Payal Shah also wanted to wait for a more inclusive ceremony.

“I felt like it would be nice to be all together. We’ve all been through so much this year and the previous years,” Payal said.

Senior Savannah Salter, too, wanted to see her classmates one more time and voted to wait.

“I was focused on wanting to be with my classmates, which is what I am still hoping for,” she said.

Ms. Salter added if it doesn’t work out the way she had hoped and it’s moved inside, she still believes she made the right choice.

“I think it was worth the wait even if it doesn’t end up the way we wanted,” she said. “I appreciate all they did for us regardless.”

If the outdoor ceremony does take place as planned, students and guests will be required to wear face masks. Each senior will be allowed four guests. The guests will sit together on marked spots on the bleachers.

Students will be allowed to remove their masks when they walk across the stage.

The school is also urging those who have been in contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19 or who is showing symptoms to stay home.

They also caution those who may attend the outdoor ceremony that it will be hot and there will be no water fountains or concessions available.


Contact Cheryl Burke at 252-726-7081, ext. 255; email Cheryl@thenewstimes.com; or follow on Twitter @cherylccnt.

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