Sent April 10, 2020
Dear D219 Class of 2020 Students and Families,
We know that you have been wondering about the status of end-of-the-year activities, including our annual student awards ceremonies, prom and graduation. We understand how important these events are, not only in and of themselves, but also because they mark such important milestones in a year that has already been altered beyond anyone’s expectations by the COVID-19 pandemic.
We are sending this note to let you know that we are actively investigating a number of possibilities and alternatives, including having some “virtual” events. In the end, the question of whether we will be able to hold any in-person gatherings, and, if so, when those can take place, will be determined at state and local levels, and we may not have much control over these decisions. Just yesterday, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker said large public gatherings should probably not take place this summer, and probably not even until an effective vaccine is available.
That being said, here are some of the things we can tell you about the options we are considering.
Senior Recognition Awards
We are proceeding with our awards and recognitions for seniors. Although neither event will be held physically at the schools, Niles North will have its Awards of Distinction, and Niles West will have its Accolades recognitions, albeit in a different format this year. Both schools will recognize seniors for their outstanding contributions over their high school careers. Our faculty and staff members are working with our administrators to develop a vehicle that will spotlight the significant accomplishments of so many of our students.
Prom is a very important event, particularly for seniors, to mark the end of their high school careers with a celebratory and exciting night of dancing and fun. Because the original dates are so close to the “stay at home” order and we have not received guidance on what the limits on large gatherings may be after that date, we are unfortunately going to cancel the May prom dates. We are heartbroken to have to make this decision. We are considering the possibility of holding a physical prom later in the year at one of our schools. We are also looking at possibly holding some kind of senior send off sometime in the summer. All of these alternate events would be contingent on the determination that it is safe for people to gather in groups by this time.
The highlight of every school year is graduation. We know it is as important, or maybe even more so, for families as it is for students to mark this milestone. It is also an important opportunity to come together as a community and celebrate with parents, friends and extended family. Our current date of graduation is scheduled for Sunday, May 24. Because of the uncertainty of whether mass gatherings will be allowed in late May, we are planning for alternative ways to mark graduation while adhering to the “stay at home” rule, should it be extended.
Since seniors have already ordered their caps and gowns, we will develop plans to get those ceremonial garments to our graduates. Those distribution plans will of course, adhere to the social distancing guidelines that are currently in place.
One possibility is to hold a “virtual” graduation. Another possibility is to still have a physical ceremony later in the summer. We will keep you informed as developments unfold, and we will continue to look for ways to celebrate these important life-marking events for our students at the same time we must all address the profound challenges that we are facing at this unprecedented time in our country and around the world.
Please stay home and stay safe. We will get through this together!
Dr. James Edwards, Niles North Principal
Dr. Karen Ritter, Niles West Principal
Dr. Steven Isoye, Superintendent of Schools