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Bob Jones and James Clemens to host graduations May 26 and 27

MADISON – Madison City Schools is holding graduations this year at Madison City Stadium — next week.
After changing the date last month to June 29, school leaders are changing it again, this time to May 26 and 27. It’s a move several local high school seniors say does not give their families enough notice to readjust their plans a second time.

Interim Superintendent Mr. Eric Terrell announced the new graduation dates, along with location change from the Von Braun Center, in a community-wide messenger sent late Thursday.

“The school closures caused by COVID-19 were devastating to our seniors. When schools dismissed on March 13 due to the statewide health and safety order, it disrupted many of the traditions that make the final year of high school memorable,” Terrell said. “Graduation is a big one. The original date of May 18 at the VBC was moved to June 29, but that remained tentative under the constantly changing parameters of COVID-19.”

The rescheduled date for June 29 was never a certainty with the potential a health order could keep the VBC arena closed, school officials explained.

They say the change from the VBC to the stadium gives better assurance the graduations can be held and allows schools more control over the program.

James Clemens will have graduations on Tuesday, May 26 and Bob Jones on Wednesday, May 27.

“The size of the graduating classes (approximately 470 for James Clemens and 430 for Bob Jones) will necessitate that graduations each day be split into two programs in order to maintain social distancing,” MCS spokesperson John Peck said. “Each school will have a 4 p.m. and a 7:30 p.m. graduation ceremony with the session assignments decided alphabetically. (A-J and K-Z for James Clemens and A-K and L-Z for Bob Jones).”

All attendees are encouraged to wear a mask until seated. Graduating seniors are being furnished a mask for required use until the program start.

Several high school seniors say the short is making it hard on their families to attend.

On Friday, nearly two dozen James Clemens students and parents hosted a sit-in outside the Madison City Board of Education building.

“This graduation ceremony was one of the last things that we had for each other, for ourselves, since prom was canceled, since senior days were canceled, seniors events were canceled. We can’t have graduation parties, so this was our last thing to do together before we all leave,” James Clemens student Nevaeh Eggleston told WAFF.

If the school district pushes the graduation dates back, it would likely bump up against already planned renovations for the stadium.

The Madison City school board approved a $2.4 million project last month to add artificial turf at the Madison City Stadium, and the practice fields at James Clemens and Bob Jones. Work is scheduled to be done over the summer months before school begins this fall.

School leaders did say the graduation ceremonies will be live-streamed through the Madison City Schools website. They said a link will be shared through the school district’s social media platforms closer to the time of graduation.

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