PENNRIDGE  — The school district and community are working together to make sure graduation will be as special as it can be for this year's 540 Pennridge High School graduates, Principal Stephen Cashman said as activities to highlight the graduates began May 15.

That was chosen as the kick-off date because it was 20 days (excluding weekends) before the June 11 graduation date, Melissa O'Brien, the senior class advisor, said.

The May 15 activities included the delivery of caps, gowns and yard signs to the soon-to-be graduates.

“We had almost 100 staff volunteer,” to make the deliveries, said Jessie Cuthbert, a guidance counselor at the school.

That's in addition to doing online learning programs for the students, Cashman said.

“Today's not a day off for our staff,” he said.

“For most of them, they're doing double duty today,” Cashman said, “They're posting work and they're reaching out to their students and in between they're coming here delivering signs.”

May 15 also was the first day of the 20 in 2020 series being posted on social media, Kallie Cooper, the district's public relations coordinator, said. The postings include photos of 20 of the graduates each day, along with comments about the students from teachers and principals at various grade levels, she said.

Before making decisions about this year's graduation ceremonies, a survey was done, including the graduation options parents, students and the community would prefer, Cashman said.

With the social distancing guidelines still in effect, “We weren't able to do any one of those options in its purest form,” he said, “so what we ended up doing was we were picking and choosing pieces that we knew were important for the students.”

The graduation ceremony being posted June 11 will be a recording, he said.

“It's a virtual, but it's really not because we're not just pulling pictures from the yearbook,” he said.

“Every student's going to have an opportunity to walk across the stage,” Cashman said.

Family members will be able to be there when that happens, he said.

“Every student's gonna have a chance to walk through the halls, go up to the stadium and really just take some time to have that closure,” Cashman said.

A video company has been hired to compile the segments into the graduation presentation, he said.

“I think in the end we're going to have something really special for the kids,” he said.

Other year-end activities will include the May 28 Senior Academic Achievement Dinner, during which the top 10 percent of the students will be honored.

The meals, which will be delivered to the students' homes, are being donated by local restaurants Cafe at the Mill, Chiaros, Hawkeye's, J.T. Bankers, Lubertos, Sapori, The Perk and Vincent's Pizza Souderton, Pennridge School Board member Joan Cullen, who with O'Brien is organizing the event, said. Landis Markets is donating the cake.

John T. Fox, a Pennridge graduate and a professor at Lehigh University's College of Engineering, will speak over video as part of the event.

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