Joplin High School announces ‘Plan-C’ for graduation, days after initially cancelling the ceremony

JOPLIN, Mo. – On Tuesday, Joplin parents and students received an automated call from the high school’s principal telling them the graduation planned for later this month, was cancelled, due to the recent spike in COVID cases. However, they’ve now developed a ‘Plan-C’.

Danya Walker is the mother of Samantha Walker, a JHS senior. Earlier this week, when it was first announced graduation was cancelled, she was heartbroken. “Samantha is our last one as well, our second daughter, and so this was my last chance to see her walk across the high school stage and all that and get her cords and everything that she’s worked so hard for.”

For Samantha, it all started back in March, when they took off for spring break and never came back. “We had no idea, so we went to spring break and we said okay, we’ll see you in like eight days, and, eight days turned into eight weeks and now some of us will probably never see each other again.”

But that’s all changed thanks to a ‘Plan-C’ for graduation that the school developed. We spoke with the Joplin High School principal, to learn about some of the changes. Dr. Stephen Gilbreth says “Come into the Performing Arts Center and then we’ll socially distance all families, one kid, four guests, so, groups of five, keep them socially distanced all the way down the sidewalk all the way inside, and then they will go across the stage, have their name called, go across the stage, get their leather bound diploma holder presented to them, and then get a picture at that point, come out of the auditorium and get an official graduation picture taken, you know, a senior picture, cap and gown, and that kind of thing.”

And for Samantha, she says, it’s good enough. “Nothing about this year has been normal whatsoever, so, I guess this kind of graduation is extremely fitting, but you know, at least we’re going to have one, at least we’re going to be able to see some of our peers and some of our teachers and at least, you know, we’ll be able to walk across that stage even if it’s not the one we expected to.”

The district will be releasing more detailed information in the coming days on the exact procedure for the ceremony.