QUINCY — A Quincy High School traditional graduation ceremony set for later this month, along with a rescheduled prom in July, have been canceled because of ongoing concerns with COVID-19.
But the QHS Class of 2020 still will have a drive-up graduation "photo opp" on Saturday, June 27.
"I know the cancellations of these types of events cause pain and frustration," QHS Principal Jody Steinke said in a Tuesday afternoon email and phone call to Blue Devil graduates and families.
"I would urge you to not let your current frustration overshadow the last four years at QHS and all that you worked toward and achieved," he said. "A global pandemic may be able to take away a traditional graduation ceremony or prom, but it does not have the power to take away the memories, friendships and achievements from your time at Quincy High."
Details still are being finalized for the "photo opp" with graduates in the first half of the alphabet invited to attend from 9 to 10:30 a.m. and the second half of the alphabet from 10:30 a.m. to noon.
Cars will enter off 30th Street at Baldwin to avoid any potential traffic backup along Maine Street and drive up to the stage set up in front of QHS. Graduates will walk across the stage as their name is announced with "Pomp and Circumstance" playing and pose for photos. A professional photographer also will take photos which will be available for purchase.
"I'm hopeful a lot of people will show up," Steinke said in an interview with The Herald-Whig. "I know some will have turned the page and want to move on, but I hope they take advantage of the opportunity."
The graduation ceremony had been planned for June 27 in Blue Devil Gym because of construction underway at Flinn Stadium. Graduates would have been limited to two tickets for guests to attend, and the class most likely would have been split alphabetically with two ceremonies held.
Superintendent Roy Webb said neither graduation nor prom would be possible this summer.
With the state in Phase 3 of Gov. J.B. Pritzker's Restore Illinois plan, gatherings are limited to 10 people. "We may get to Phase 4 and a limit of 50, but with staff and parents and students who would be involved in graduation, we're talking 2,000," Webb said. "I don't see anything in the near future with that type of audience or people involved."
Prom, originally planned for April 25 at the Ambiance, had been rescheduled to July 24. That event typically draws 400 to 500 people and also would not meet the state guidelines.
Steinke said canceling now may help students recoup some of the money invested in the event for tux rental, limos or dinner reservations.
"Hopefully by doing it this early, they won't lose some of the money they might have lost if we waited until a week before to cancel," he said.
The decision to scrap the events is one more disappointment to the senior class, which had its last year at QHS truncated by the virus, graduated early if they had enough credits and watched a virtual graduation ceremony, mostly from their living rooms at home, on May 22.
"This is the final sorry it won't happen," Steinke said. "That will cause some pain, understandably so."