by Sierra Pleimafirstname.lastname@example.org
After yet another announcement from Governor Reynolds, PCHS had to make some tough calls about canceling or postponing classes and events ranging from sports to concerts to JSB and graduation to society meetings and fundraisers.
Despite the uncertainty of events in the near future, there is one event that administrators are certain will take place: the graduation of the class of 2020. “To me that is probably the highest priority for a public gathering,” said Van Kooten.
Seniors were surveyed twice on what direction to go with a graduation ceremony: wait until restrictions on social gatherings are called off; record and share a virtual graduation; or hold a drive in graduation outside, with families staying in their cars in the parking lot. Van Kooten says that the admin team is doing, “the best we can to have a very memorable, unforgettable graduation for the class of 2020.”
On Friday, May 1, Van Kooten released how they are planning to proceed with graduation. As long as COVID-19 restrictions do not increase in the next few weeks, the graduation of the PCHS class of 2020 will be held on the football field, with seniors in the home stands and families spaced out on the field. The graduation will be held on the date originally planned, at 7 p.m. on Saturday, May 23. If weather looks forbidding, the time may be moved up to 11:00 that morning, or postponed until 1:00 p.m. on Monday, May 25.
“I’m sad for our seniors and all the alternate plans they and their families have had to make now,” Van Kooten said. “My hope is that we have a face-to-face graduation and put together something meaningful and memorable for the seniors.”
Decisions on whether events will be cancelled are made by an administration team led by Principal Dan Van Kooten. The team has met via Zoom every morning for the past six weeks with Van Kooten, vice principal Greg Wojczynski, guidance counselor Brad Engbers, athletic director Dan Branderhorst, and math teacher Kevin Herdegen.
The admin team had to call off the senior class trip, upcoming music performances, and all spring sports. In addition, All State speech was cancelled, but the spring play is still a possibility, if standards eventually ease anytime during the next month, according to play director Marlo Van Peursem. “As the show was only four days away from performance and because it is a small cast, several options continue to exist for this production,” Van Peursem said.
Those options include scaled back rehearsals, limiting audience size for social distancing, and live streaming the show. “As Governor Reynolds continues to monitor the situation for the next eight weeks, we will also use such standards to determine the best course of action for PCHS’s spring play.”
Junior Senior Banquet was originally scheduled for April 24, and was rescheduled for May 8. A third, and most likely final option has been set for June 19. “It would still be fun to have a JSB in June if we can pull it off,” said Van Kooten.
As for athletic events, Branderhorst makes the official call, but he is subject to direction from the Iowa High School Athletic Association (IHSAA). He has been in touch with other athletic directors of the Little Hawkeye Conference. They were tasked to come up with plans for different scenarios given by the IHSAA and the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union for a shortened spring sports season.
Though Branderhorst was praying for the resumption of school and the opportunity for student athletes to compete in their 2020 seasons, and a schedule was made for spring sports, in hopes that school would resume at the start of May. “I am very sad for our student-athletes. I wish that they were able to compete and find joy with their peers,” said Branderhorst. “Sports are an important piece of the educational process and their current absence has left us with a void. Our programs teach us so much about industriousness, friendship, cooperation, loyalty and enthusiasm.”
According to the IHSAA website, “(summer sports) are suspended pending an assessment made in collaboration with state officials before June.”