GRIC schools will still honor class of 2020

Kyle Knox
Gila River Indian News


To cope with stay at home orders from the coronavirus outbreak, Gila River Indian Community students must also contend with their own changes in education for the remainder of 2020. The spring semester is the end of the school year in GRIC. It is the capstone to their academic accomplishments followed by graduations and promotions.  These occasions typically include gymnasiums and venues packed with families and family celebrations. 


With the world dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, social and physical distancing has forced everyone to reconsider their academic celebrations. Today, all schools must consider new ways to honor student accomplishments including Sacaton Middle School and Gila Crossing Community School.

Sacaton Elementary School District Superintendent Dr. Cherryl Paul said, "We want to make sure that all our eighth graders know that we're going to do something for them and with them." 


Likewise, Gila Crossing Superintendent Jim Mosely is actively considering the safety of staff for their promotion, and plans are still in development. Mosely did acknowledge the new school’s first promotion stating, “It’s sad, we started our first year in this brand-new facility, and I hope that we may be able to have some sort of promotion at some point for these eighth graders.”


Both school administrators agreed that it’s vital for this year’s eighth grade students to be recognized for their accomplishments.


Many schools, teachers, and families are exploring ways to celebrate for different milestones that adhere to social distancing. Many are hosting “virtual” gatherings with their families.


Another popular option that many are trying is “parades” for students hosted by teachers and staff. There are a variety of ways these occur where sometimes the parade of well-wishers drives by honking and yelling words of encouragement outside a person's home. Or at times the honoree drives past their well-wishers as they cheer them on. 


As the state considers reopening businesses and services in May, many schools are refraining from hosting any graduations for now.  Gila Crossing may host a small gathering on campus for students and families. Though if a small ceremony is a planned, Mr. Mosely indicated that it might occur later in the year, and a parade or virtual ceremony are still options.


And for now, Sacaton Middle School is planning a “Promotion Parade” for their eighth grade class.  The school plans to welcome all the graduates and families to drive in front of the school, for a small gift along with special signs created specifically for their students. Teachers and faculty will line on one side of their street in their graduation regalia, in hopes of inspiring the eighth graders to pursue higher education.


In the future, more plans will unfold for all schools as the state reopens. Planning for this is all new territory for everyone to think about when it comes to promotions. Traditional graduations with addresses from dignitaries, walking across the stage may be on hold. Still, inevitably, schools and families will find a way to recognize their students.