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Graduations to all be held at Hertz Arena in July

By Staff | Jun 30, 2020

Due to an opening at Hertz Arena, all in-person high school graduations will be held at the same facility at various times and days in July.

District Spokesperson Rob Spicker said they always wanted to have the graduation ceremonies at one arena, but Hertz was not available for both weekends initially. He said when Hertz had a cancelation and said they could have both weekends of July 17 and July 24 they jumped on the opportunity.

With moving all the high school graduations to Hertz Arena the district will save almost $40,000 from the original plan of using two venues.

“The benefit is we get the savings,” Spicker said.

The new graduation schedule is as follows:

Friday, July 17

* Ida Baker High School, at 10 a.m.

* North Fort Myers High School, at 2:30 p.m.

* Lehigh Senior High School, at 7 p.m.

Saturday, July 18

* Estero High School, at 10 a.m.

* Riverdale High School, at 2:30 p.m.

* Fort Myers High School, at 7 p.m.

Sunday, July 19

* East lee County High School, at 2:30 p.m.

* South Fort Myers High School, at 7 p.m.

Friday, July 24

* Cypress Lake High School, at 10 a.m.

* Dunbar High School, at 7 p.m.

Saturday, July 25

* Mariner High School, at 10 a.m.

* Cape Coral High School, at 7 p.m.

Sunday, July 26

* Island Coast High School, at 2:30 p.m.

Each graduation will have a livestream for those who are not able to attend the in-person ceremony with links made available closer to the actual ceremony date.

The Hertz staff, between each ceremony, will be the ones sanitizing the areas where students and parents are sitting, Spicker said.

He said each high school has roughly 350 to 600 graduating seniors. When the district surveyed the families about holding an in-person graduation, a large percentage said they would attend.

“We expect to have a good crowd of 2020 attendants for all of these ceremonies,” Spicker said.

Each graduate will receive two tickets for family members, or guests, to attend the ceremony due to social distancing guidelines. Everyone entering the Hertz arena will also be asked health screening questions.

On the day of the ceremony, graduates will go straight to their seats on the arena floor, while their guests will be directed to their seating sections. Health precautions will be in place while diplomas are handed out on stage.

The district asks that at the end of the ceremony, graduates leave first and their guests are expected to meet them at their cars, in order to avoid large gatherings of people outside of the arena.

In addition, Hertz Arena will also have standard security procedures in place: metal detectors in use at each entrance; only clear bags are allowed inside with no bags being preferred; flowers and gifts are not allowed inside the ceremony; hand sanitizing stations will be provided and restrooms will be open; no re-entry allowed and masks for guests are optional.

Spicker said each school will send out specific information to their students regarding the graduation day and time, as well as what the procedures are once they arrive at the arena. He said the schools are developing their own plan with their staff to communicate with their seniors, so everyone is in the right place and time for the ceremonies.

“Right now masks are optional. Some staff will wear them,” Spicker said of those who will interact the most with students. “Principals will wear a mask that hand over the diplomas.”

He said the level of interaction with students and their families will dictate more precaution.

Spicker said the key is if anything changes in the next few weeks, resulting in increase in restrictions, they will follow those guidelines. For example, he said if Hertz says everyone has to wear a mask, masks will be required for everyone in attendance.

“We look forward to as many as possible coming out,” Spicker said. “Seniors deserve this recognition. It’s our one final chance to congratulate their achievement.”

Senior students enrolled at Lee Virtual School will have a graduation ceremony at a private venue by invitation only.