A 2019 Decatur High School graduate’s cap reads “Wherever life plants me, I’ll bloom with grace.” This year, graduation ceremonies for FWPS will be held virtually in response to the global COVID-19 pandemic. Photo courtesy of Federal Way Public Schools

A 2019 Decatur High School graduate’s cap reads “Wherever life plants me, I’ll bloom with grace.” This year, graduation ceremonies for FWPS will be held virtually in response to the global COVID-19 pandemic. Photo courtesy of Federal Way Public Schools

Federal Way Public Schools plans virtual graduation for class of 2020

The ceremonies will be broadcast on local Channel 21, Facebook Live and YouTube.

Federal Way Public Schools graduates will not be walking across the stage to mark the end of their high school career this year.

Due to the current health crisis and the need to follow Washington’s social distancing guidelines, FWPS recently unveiled plans for virtual graduation ceremonies and other recognition options for this year’s senior class.

The following tradition and ceremony adaptations were the results of feedback from graduating seniors, high school principals and neighboring school districts.

Graduation ceremonies will be held virtually and will include speeches by staff and students, reading of graduate names with display of each student’s photo, and a virtual turning of the tassel.

The ceremonies will be broadcast on various platforms, such as local Channel 21, Facebook Live and YouTube.

Dates for the virtual graduation ceremonies have not yet been finalized.

“Just like remote learning can’t fully replicate the classroom environment, we know there is no version of a socially-distanced graduation that will adequately replace the traditional experience of walking across a stage,” wrote FWPS Superintendent Dr. Tammy Campbell in a recent newsletter to families. “As we grieve the loss of the traditional celebration, let’s rally around the Class of 2020 and celebrate their accomplishments however we can.”

In-person graduation ceremonies were previously scheduled to take place June 8 at the accesso ShoWare Center in Kent for Federal Way, Decatur and Thomas Jefferson high schools. Todd Beamer High School’s graduation was scheduled for June 9.

If you were on track to graduate, you will still graduate this spring, the district reports on its website. While academics for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year are not graded, students will be graded on their work completed prior to March 13.

None of the state’s 1.2 million K-12 students will earn a failing grade for the rest of the school year, state Superintendent Chris Reykdal said last Wednesday.

Districts must assign either an incomplete grade or a letter grade better than F to high school students, according to a new policy from the state Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction. In elementary and middle schools, districts can continue with their current grading system, but a student cannot fail a course.

Federal Way Public Schools’ standards-based grading system is aligned with OSPI’s guidance, Swenson said.

Elementary and middle school students will continue with the grading system used up to March 13 prior to COVID-19 closure.

Middle and high school students will earn a letter grade of A, B, C or an I (incomplete) for credit-bearing courses.

To also honor the outgoing seniors, each high school will host a Class of 2020 parade experience while following social distance guidelines. More information about the parades will be provided in the coming weeks.

The district has also purchased yard signs celebrating the Class of 2020 for seniors at each high school. These will be distributed to seniors during cap and gown pick up.

Signs were ordered for the four comprehensive high schools, TAF@Saghalie, Internet Academy, Career Academy, Federal Way Open Doors and Employment Transition Program (ETP).

Each congratulatory yard sign indicates the high school’s name and reads a “Class of 2020 Senior lives here,” while also including the school’s logo and school colors.

The yard signs are one of many ways the district is honoring the Class of 2020 and the district is incurring the cost, said FWPS spokeswoman Kassie Swenson. The total cost of the yard signs provided for each senior is $13,897.84.

Other celebratory activities specific to each high school will be planned at the school level, the district reports on its website. Details about prom and annual high school yearbooks traditions have not yet been released.

Graduation cap and gown pick up for Federal Way High School and Thomas Jefferson High School seniors is from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday, May 13.

Decatur High School, TAF@Saghalie and Todd Beamer High School seniors can pick up their cap and gowns from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday, May 14.


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