Island high schools plan for live graduation ceremonies

All Whidbey Island high schools are hosting graduation ceremonies, but other senior events may vary.

Whidbey Island high schools are varying this year in their celebratory offerings for graduates.

All three schools are still hosting a graduation ceremony, but only Oak Harbor High School is throwing a prom.

Coupeville High School seniors will be the first to turn their tassels at their commencement on Friday, June 11 at the Mickey Clark Field. Superintendent Steve King did not specify how many tickets each graduate will receive but said the ceremony will be held outdoors to safely accommodate a large audience of graduates’ families and friends.

Coupeville’s typical yearly senior breakfast and parade events are organized by parents. Details for these events will be left up to parents’ discretion, King said, though the school district did suggest they consider hosting them after graduation to mitigate the risk of an outbreak that could prevent some students from attending.

As for prom, King confirmed they are forgoing the event because of “clear COVID-19 guidelines that would not allow for a traditional prom.”

“We instead are focusing our efforts on a very open and safe graduation ceremony,” he wrote in an email.

South Whidbey High School will host its graduation the following day, June 12, at the high school stadium in a livestreamed ceremony.

In the days leading up to graduation, the school will host a scholarship and awards night June 8, a senior parade to Langley June 10 and a senior barbecue June 11.

Oak Harbor High School seniors will be the last ones on the island to graduate. The commencement will be held June 19 at Wildcat Stadium.

Oak Harbor School District surveyed families about whether to have a group graduation ceremony or an individualized one, and one large group ceremony was the clear winner.

Communications Officer Conor Laffey said that, based on state guidance, he expected students to receive two tickets each to invite family and friends.

Before graduation, seniors will also be celebrated with traditional events such as a senior breakfast and awards night along with a senior-only prom in the school’s courtyard on June 12.

The free event will have dancing, as long as spacing requirements are met, and students will need to wear masks unless they are eating or drinking.

Oak Harbor senior Jada Matthews said she felt “blessed” to have administrators who are working hard to give seniors a safe and fun send-off.

“They really wanted to try and give us as close to a normal senior year as they possibly could, which is really awesome, so a lot of our events have been altered to fit COVID guidelines, so that we were all safe,” the soon-to-be graduate said.

“For the most part, we’ve been able to do a lot of the things that seniors have previously.”

Reporter Emily Gilbert contributed to this article.