In a time of uncertainty, the Mehlville School District’s graduations now have a certain time— though it’s still unclear whether they will happen in person or virtually.
Early in the coronavirus crisis that eventually ended in-person school for the year, Mehlville officials requested alternate dates for graduation at Chaifetz Arena, which was originally scheduled for May 31.
The Oakville High School graduation will take place at 1:30 p.m. July 19 at Chaifetz Arena, 1 S. Compton Ave., followed by the Mehlville High School ceremony at 6 p.m. the same day.
If graduation ceremonies still cannot be held in person at that time, the district will hold the ceremonies remotely at that time and date.
The decision was made by a committee comprised of Oakville and Mehlville high school students, parents, teachers and administrators and allows seniors to “move forward with certainty, and we’re locking in the July 19 date,” Superintendent Chris Gaines told the Board of Education April 15.
The students on the committee didn’t want to postpone the ceremony past August, when graduates will move on to the next chapter of their lives. If they hadn’t objected, Gaines said he was willing to postpone graduation to Thanksgiving or Christmas.
“Hopefully things will be in good shape so that we can have kids walk across the stage,” Gaines said. “It’s probably the one thing that I’ve been most adamant about is we wanted to have an in-person graduation ceremony if at all possible.”
The options are Chaifetz or remote, Gaines said. If the schools aren’t able to hold an in-person graduation at Chaifetz, he doubts that they will be able to hold graduation on their own properties.
“We hope that this decision brings some peace of mind to our senior students and their families,” Assistant Superintendent Jeff Bresler said in a message to students and parents.
Through the committee, the two high schools are also coming up with an alternate plan for prom. Gaines said he was leaving those decisions up to each building to decide.
In executive orders, Gov. Mike Parson has waived state requirements for graduation this year, including requirements that seniors learn CPR and the Heimlich maneuver, along with the tests on the Missouri and U.S. constitutions and the usual civics test. He also waived the elementary third-grade reading assessment and the physical fitness assessment for fifth- and eighth-graders. The end-of-year dyslexia screening was also canceled.
Mehlville typically requires a 25th credit beyond the state’s required 24 credits.
But in light of the pandemic and the interruption to the usual school year, the board unanimously approved changing that so that the 25th credit will not be required of the Class of 2020.
The high schools also decided that all classes for the fourth quarter would be graded pass-fail. The third quarter grade was able to be finished before in-person instruction was cut short.
“What we really are pushing teachers to be able to do is to keep in mind the essential learning, the standards, the big things,” Assistant Superintendent Brian Smith said at the April 15 meeting.
Only AP and dual credit courses taken in partnership with local colleges are still receiving grades, Smith added.
Elementary students will not receive grades for the fourth quarter, since not everyone has the same access to be able to do work at home.