High school graduation – Alcovy
Alcovy High School in the US held a graduation ceremony outdoors with social distancing and avoided paper certificates and hand shaking. They used a live stream with moderated comments so that the community could join in virtually.
Alcovy High School is a public school located in Newton County in Covington, Georgia, USA. It has a student population of just under 2,000 students and approximately 105 teachers. The Class of 2020 in-person graduation was held offsite at Sharp Stadium (approximately 20 minutes from the high school).
“One thing about this pandemic is that it has really created opportunities to think outside the box and really try new solutions".
Dr. Adam Phyall, Director of Technology, Media Services
The Alcovy High School case study is included for schools to consider bearing in mind their own context and needs. Local, state and federal restrictions on social gatherings are different in and across the USA. NSW schools could consider live streaming a graduation assembly involving students only on YouTube.
The graduation was live-streamed on YouTube and included live chat replay so that those who could not make the graduation could still offer real-time praise to the students during the ceremony.
The three-person team used Open Broadcaster Software (OBS), which is also recommended by the department – see the Live streaming guide. They also rented robotic cameras. They had one person manning a camera and the robotic cameras were managed through a control centre that allowed them to switch between cameras while streaming.
The school held the ceremony at an open air stadium. For many families, this was a big event – some students were the first in their family to graduate. Therefore, the school agreed to live stream the event so that other family members could share the moment with the graduating students.
Schools with large cohorts of students could consider staggering parts of the graduation assembly so that not all year 12 students are gathered together at once.
It is important that you have the infrastructure in place to support a live stream event. Make sure that you have the bandwidth to support a live stream.
The team rehearsed the night before the event to ensure all technology was working.
As it was the middle of summer in Georgia, the event was held at 8am to avoid the heat. This meant some students were a little groggy. In hindsight, the team would have considered a multi-day graduation approach to support students’ attendance and participation.
On the day, one person moderated the live comments section on the YouTube stream, which allowed for community participation as students walked across the stage.
Social distancing and hygiene considerations
The microphone used on the lectern was replaced with each new speaker. One would be in use while the other would be taken away, sanitised and replaced for the next speaker.
Students were seated on the field with social distancing considerations.
Invited guests were seated in the stadium grandstand observing social distancing considerations. Note that currently in NSW school assemblies may not have external guests present - see the department's advice for planning school events for more information.
During the graduation proceedings, a student’s name was called. The student walked up to a landing where they had their professional photo taken with the school logo backdrop and proceeded back to their seat. No handshakes or paper based certificates were handed out at the ceremony.