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A.L. Brown will hold in-person, outdoor graduation

KANNAPOLIS — A.L. Brown High School will return to a more normal version of graduation this year with a live, outdoor graduation.

Principal Angelo DelliSanti said the school will have a live graduation on May 29, with a rain date on June 2.

“We can obviously allow a lot more people outside than we can inside,” DelliSanti said.

If the rain date does not work out, the graduation will move into the Kannapolis Performing Arts Center on campus. DelliSanti said the school can not give a specified number of tickets yet because of changing restrictions.

“We’ll wait and see what the maximum capacity is at that time and issue tickets accordingly,” DelliSanti said.

Graduation is not just a highlight for the students. It is an important event for faculty as well.

“Graduation is literally why we are in education,” DelliSanti said. “It’s a culmination of 13 years of effort on behalf of the public education system, the students and their families. It’s absolutely, unequivocally the most important day of the year.”

Assistant Principal Garrett Cooperman said the school works with students who come from all over the district for four years for this moment. He said the most difficult part of planning is the rapidly changing circumstances and state requirements.

“As the situation has evolved and the governor’s orders and legislation has come out we’ve had to adapt,” Cooperman said. “I’m just constantly thinking about the needs of our community as those things have been released.”

Cooperman said planning a large event such as graduation means meeting all policy requirements, keeping everyone safe and giving seniors the best experience the school can because it’s the only high school graduation they get.

Cooperman said the school is going to work with the Kannapolis City Schools Board of Education on the final attendance number to make sure members support it. No matter what the school does, he said, it will not be able to meet everyone’s desires for the ceremony, but it can try to make sure no one is unduly disappointed.

“All we can do is our best,” Cooperman said.

The school also will also hold its prom in person and outdoors. Students will be required to wear masks at that event as well.

This time last year, students had not been back in schools for more than a month and seniors would not return to classrooms at all before they graduated.

Last year, despite being closed down otherwise, the high school held a heavily modified ceremony that still let students walk across the stage and receive their diploma from the principal. They wore masks and only a handful of people were in the same room at once.

“We wanted to give students the most authentic experience of graduation that we could,” DelliSanti.

Rowan-Salisbury Schools opted for a drive-thru ceremony last year and is planning traditional graduation ceremonies for this year as well.

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