Twin Valley Superintendent discusses graduation plans

By Kelsey Kimbler -

WEST ALEXANDRIA — Twin Valley Community Local Schools held its recent board meeting via Google Meet. During the meeting, Superintendent Scott Cottingim and 7-12 Principal Derek Flatter discussed different ways graduation might be held this year.

The board opened the floor to public comments and the following questions were asked:

•What are the plans and contingency plans for graduation?

Cottingim answered, “We will do as much as we are allowed to do. If we are allowed to have a graduation where we can keep social distance — just spit-balling here — for example, on the football field. If we are allowed to do something like that, we will do it. At the same time, we are coming up with contingency plans and what-ifs. We are actually meeting tomorrow with the Preble County Health Department and we are going to be discussing the topic further.

“We want to be able to have graduation. Do we know what it is going to be right now — no we do not, but we will do as much as the State allows us to do. We are making plans and we have Plan As, Plan Bs, and Plan Cs, but I think I can speak for the board that we all want to have some sort of graduation ceremony for the kids. They worked too hard and they need closure on their school year.”

He added, they would prefer it to not be a virtual graduation.

•At what point will the district share details on plans for graduation?

Cottingim answered, “As soon as we get further statements from the Governor and the State Superintendent. We are going to try to have the best experience we can under these conditions for seniors. I know Mr. Flatter and our Senior Class Advisors have come up with a couple of different scenarios. As of right now, we would prefer it to be some sort of in-person graduation.”

•Will the district be following recommendations to not have a graduation, or will it take a mandate for Twin Valley South Seniors to not walk at graduation this year?

Cottingim answered, “That is a big reason we’re meeting with the Preble County Health Department as well and waiting for feedback from Senator Huffman’s letter to the Governor and State Superintendent. Dan, you’re exactly right, a graduation with 70 students looks a whole lot different than a big school that has 1,000 or 750 graduating seniors. That’s why Senator Huffman has basically asked the Governor and the State Superintendent to let schools have a little bit of decision making whether they can safely do something as far as graduation.”

The topic came up once again at the end of the meeting. Cottingim discussed why they elected to use grades instead of pass-fail in grades 9-12. He also touched on a plan for scheduling, before moving into the graduation topic.

“Going into this when it first started, when it was determined that we would not be going back to school, we started with plans with what graduation could look like, or should look like. I think we want to do as much as we can,” Cottingim said. “Plan A is graduation like we normally do. We keep getting information from the Governor and didn’t think that would be able to happen, so we came up with some Plan Bs and Plan Cs.

“We came up with ideas of trying to have a social distance type of graduation, doing that on the football field, spreading everybody out. Unfortunately, we thought we might have to limit the amount of people who are in the audience. We talked about maybe four per person, eight per person, just because you have to think about your crowd too. We’re going through all those different scenarios.

“Along the way we [started] our traditional videos, baby picture videos. We’ve done that for a number of years. Baby picture graduation type things, before and after videos. We started collecting all the information for those videos. With that being said, Mr. Flatter is in the process of having our valedictorians give their speeches and filming those, at least working on that.”

He added, if they did do graduation on the football field, they would try to condense it using filmed footage as well. Flatter said, there is a lot of conversation and discussion going on behind the scenes. There is a lot they need to do to prepare for graduation, from the digital aspect to including the band.

“We’re not sitting here just waiting,” Flatter said.

School officials are working on different aspects of graduation. One aspect is they would still like to make the original graduation date special for graduating seniors.

“If we have to delay graduation to June or July, we still want to do something on the original graduation date,” Cottingim said.

Board members discussed the logistics of a social distanced graduation, when to make a decision about graduation, and whether a digital graduation should be an option. Board members discussed meeting again in two to three weeks to discuss the new information and how that effects graduation.

They also discussed the idea of having something special planned for May 28 to honor seniors on the date they would originally have been walking. The board agreed to let Derrick Myers, Director of Technology, prepare for a celebration on May 28, in addition to graduation, which will be scheduled for a future date. This will not be not be a replacement for graduation.

On Wednesday, April 29, Flatter posted an announcement to Facebook that indicated the first-ever graduation parade will be held on May 28. Students and parents are encouraged to decorate one car which will be part of a special parade honoring the TVS graduates of 2020.

By Kelsey Kimbler

Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH

Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH