Announcement from Bobbie Short, interim superintendent of Asheville City Schools:
Thank you to the more than 200 Asheville High/SILSA Seniors and your parents for ensuring your feedback about graduation was heard. We so appreciate and value your input. Please know it was key in helping us finalize graduation plans.
A recent article from The New York Times explains Asheville is one of the top 15 metro areas across the country where a COVID-19 outbreak could occur next. As I’m sure you’ve heard, our local number of cases continue to increase, and unfortunately, this means we aren’t out of the woods yet. So, while a motorcade ceremony was not our original choice, I do think it’s the best one we can make at this time to ensure the safety of our staff, students and their families.
More than 75% of you explained your family would prefer graduation to occur next Saturday, May 30th with a rain date of Saturday, June 6th, so that’s just what we’ll do.
Based on your feedback, we will be having separate motorcade ceremony times for Asheville High School and SILSA graduations. Times have been assigned based on each graduate’s last name and school:
Saturday, May 30th
Asheville High School students with last names that begin with A-D
10:00 – 11:00 AM
Asheville High School students with last names that begin with E-H
11:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Asheville High School students with last names that begin with J-N
1:00 PM – 2:00 PM
Asheville High School students with last names that begin with O-Z
2:00 PM -3:00 PM
SILSA students with last names that begin with A-P
3:00 PM – 4:00 PM
SILSA students with last names that begin with Q-Z
Each graduate will be permitted one vehicle for our ceremony. In the additional comments section of the survey, many of you asked if your family could decorate the vehicle you will be utilizing for graduation; we love that idea and can’t wait to see your Cougar Pride on full display!
Cars will enter the school from the Victoria Road entrance and wind through campus to the front steps of Asheville High School/SILSA. In order for a vehicle to begin the motorcade ceremony, graduates must be in the front passenger seat dressed in their cap and gown.
Each car will receive a card with their graduate’s name printed on it as they enter campus. The card will be used to announce their name in person over a loudspeaker as they receive their diploma cover. Additionally, we are asking parents to please write down their most current mailing address on the back of the card as well.
Cars will make their way around our marked graduation route, which includes driving by the Fine Arts Theatre, the CTE Building and the visitor parking lot before making their way up to the front steps of the high school.
As the car approaches the front steps, a staff member will direct the student out of their car at the SILSA entrance sign. As the student hands their name card to the reader, families will pull their car forward. After their name is announced, each student will retrieve their diploma cover from a small table and have a candid picture taken with their principal. The student will then proceed to the high school’s front steps where they will pose for a formal picture by a professional photographer. The student will then receive their actual diploma before making their way back to their car. Families are to remain in the car at all times.
Each family will exit campus by turning right onto McDowell Street.
The district will be live-streaming graduation on its Facebook Page, @AVLCitySchools, should your family wish to plan a virtual watch party to honor your graduate. A graduation recap video will also be shared the week following graduation.
Based on your feedback, we know one of the most important elements for many families is hearing student speeches. Please know that our valedictorians and salutatorians will be recording their speeches that will air on a loop that will play on a local radio station during our motorcade ceremony.
Asheville City Schools will be mailing a formal portrait to each family following graduation free of charge to the address listed on your graduate’s card. Portraits will also be posted on Asheville City Schools’ Facebook page.
In order to ensure proper social distancing standards are kept as well as ensure the safety of our students and families, we will not be having graduates walk through campus. If your family does not have access to transportation, please email your principal, as they are happy to assist you with making additional arrangements .
Collecting Your Caps and Gowns:
As a reminder, the Class of 2020 will be able to pick up their caps and gowns on Friday, May 22nd from 9:00 AM to 2:00 PM or Tuesday, May 26th from 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM in the front roundabout of the high school’s campus.
Additionally, this will be the time where Seniors are returning their district-provided devices, textbooks, uniforms, instruments, classroom materials, etc. as well as paying any outstanding fines and fees.
The faculty and staff of Asheville High School and SILSA will be honoring all social distancing regulations as district-provided materials are collected, outstanding fines and fees are paid and caps and gowns are distributed.
Additionally, please know that we are committed to honoring our Class of 2020 when we can all be together once again. The Class of 2020 and their families overwhelmingly said your top preference was for the district to hold a one-year class reunion. Our principals are dedicated to celebrating your outstanding accomplishments. More information will be shared with our almost alumni about when this reunion will occur at a later date as we learn more about the coronavirus’ continued impact in our community from Buncombe County Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control.
I’m sure this isn’t how you originally imagined your high school graduation would look. But, once again, please know that these decisions were fully made with your safety in mind. Thanks to your suggestions, we’re dedicated to having our motorcade ceremony most closely align to a traditional graduation as possible and are confident this will be the most memorable event of your high school career! Thank you for supporting our efforts!