2020-05-20 wcat-wagoner grad Heather Butler

Wagoner senior Heather Butler was dressed for a ‘traditional’ 2020 graduation. One-by-one each Bulldog senior was joined by their family watching in front of the Performing Arts Center’s stage. As one group finished another family unit moved in. The long process was handled in four shifts and took almost eight hours to complete on Saturday, May 16. Butler was joined by 133 other graduates to receive diplomas as it was all live streamed on Wagonertv.com. JOHN FERGUSON/AMERICAN-TRIBUNE

COVID-19 was not going to stop the 2020 Wagoner High School graduates from holding graduation with social distancing as important as moving the tassel from right to left on Saturday, May 16.

The Performing Arts Centers served as the site and officials did their best to make it feel like a regular ceremony, but without the crowds.

Heather Butler would be in the first of four groups following a parade down Cherokee Street en route to the PAC.

Butler had all the things needed: Cap, gown, tassel and a homemade hospital-style facemask.

Some eight hours later it was all done. Ninety-five percent of the senior class (134 out of the 141 graduates) came to the PAC to have their name read by Middle School Principal Jeremy Holmes while traditional music played and Superintendent Randy Harris prompting the graduate when to move the tassel.

The entire ceremony was lived stream on Wagonertv.com.

“I thought it went really well,” said Harris. “Our staff heard nothing, but positive comments from many students and family members. The ceremony was very intimate for each family, which isn’t the case in our traditional graduations, but seemed appreciated.

“As a whole, we put more time and effort into this event than a normal graduation in hopes our students and their families felt valued and celebrated.”

Some board members handed out diplomas before the graduate walked to a designated spot on stage in front of a big red “W” to do the time honored tassel tradition.

It ended a day where the Wagoner County Courthouse had 2020 senior signs in the lawn.

“The cruise through town was well received by many as well. We thank Chief Hailey and Tony Ponds for assisting with that,” Harris continued.

“This whole event was a collaboration between many staff members and each one brought an idea that just kept making the ceremony better and better from the beginning stages of brain storming.”

Harris singled out, “Mr. Fleming, Mr. Alexander, our Assistant Principals; Mrs. Rice, Mrs. Johnson, our Senior sponsors; Mr. Humphries, our Director of Instruction; Mrs. Bowman, our Live Stream sponsor; Mrs. Luna, our senior counselor; Mr. Williams, our PAC director; Sammy Galyen, our head maintenance man all contributed greatly to the planning and setting up.”

Several teachers also helped out front with traffic and greeting the students and families (Mrs. Rexwinkle, Mrs. Kennedy, Mrs. Steele, Mrs. Grooms, Mr. Vann, Mr. Bell) and Mr. Holmes announced every student as they walked the stage for their diploma.

“Having our board members there to hand out the diplomas was also an added benefit,” Harris said. “Officer Reed was there as our SRO like a normal school event as well.”

The senior got outside gifts from local businesses that were part of gift baskets for each senior.

“We especially thank the senior students and their families for coming to participate even though it was a non-traditional graduation. At the end of the day, their participation is what made it the most special,” Harris added.

“Our team did an excellent job. I’m very proud of them and glad the students and families enjoyed it! said WPS’ Nick Humphries.

Harris summed it up this way: “Our goal was to provide a memorable experience that recognized our students and allowed families to witness the valuable accomplishment of graduation and I felt like we did that to the best of our abilities.”