The new normal looks pretty good, at least when the topic begins in Spokane public schools.
By most accounts, last weekend’s graduation ceremonies at the Riverfront Park Pavilion were a big success, although a few people were sweating in the heat.
“We have had nothing but positive feedback,” said Shawn Jordan, district high school principal.
So positive, in fact, that the Pavilion could be the first option for future graduation ceremonies.
For the second year in a row, the district has been forced by the COVID-19 pandemic to do some original thinking – that box being the Spokane Arena.
Banned from the arena last year by social distancing protocols, students and their families piled into their cars and drove to every school to graduate.
Last year, students graduated by car, as family members were able to come closer than ever before when their graduate graduated.
Everyone exhaled with the hope of returning to the Arena for 2021.
However, COVID-19 stuck around long enough to force the neighborhood to improvise again. In the meantime, the 2021 class has made it clear that they want to celebrate as one student body.
This objective was achieved with the choice of the Pavilion, but at the cost of limiting each graduate to two guests. That number was later expanded to four for graduates whose guests had been fully vaccinated, while others watched the ceremony live on large screens installed at the clock tower.
“The venue is very beautiful,” Jordan said, adding that the only major problem was the lack of water as temperatures rose during Sunday’s ceremonies for Lewis and Clark and Ferris High Schools.
“We had to adjust to the temperature and we had to scramble to get more water, but overall I think it went well,” Jordan said.
The comments were favorable.
“They should be doing it all the time,” a mother said at the graduation ceremony at Shadle Park.
It could happen, said Jordan, who noted that the pavilion can accommodate 5,000 people – easily meeting the needs of even the largest high school.
The schedule for 2022 contemplates a return to the Arena, but that could be the subject of another look.
With the arena located just a few hundred yards away, Jordan said, it could serve as a backup in bad weather.
“If we can partner with the (Spokane Public Facilities District) and anticipate the weather but stay out as the first option, that’s a possibility,” Jordan said.