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Spanish Daily Journal
     May 14, 2020      #35-135 sdj
Lafrance Lucas celebrates as his daughter, Kristin Hampton, returns to a car full of balloons after receiving her diploma during the May 6 ceremony. The school board said Monday that the event has received lots of positive feedback from parents.

BBCHS school board discuss graduation success,

El consejo escolar de BBCHS analiza el éxito de la

The Bradley-Bourbonnais Community High School Board of Education reflected on the school’s recent social-distanced graduation and discussed possible scenarios for scheduling the 2020-21 school year calendar during a Monday meeting.

Board President Justin Caldwell thanked administrators who organized the May 6 ceremony. He said he has received lots of positive feedback from parents.

“It was on every news station multiple times,” Caldwell said. “You really made our kids something out of nothing.”

Caldwell added that he was grateful the school pushed on with its ceremony despite mixed guidance from the Illinois State Board of Education leading up to it. Less than a week before the originally scheduled ceremony, ISBE announced that any type of in-person graduation ceremonies, even socially distanced ones, wouldn’t be allowed.

ISBE released new guidelines shortly afterward and left decisions on ceremonies up to local superintendents and school boards.

Superintendent Scott Wakeley also expressed gratitude to the team that helped make the graduation possible, including Principal Brian Wright who took care of much of the behind-the-scenes scheduling.

“Now we look back and can say it was fun,” Wakeley said. “We were pretty nervous that we weren’t going to be able to pull it off.”

Wakeley also said the number of media outlets present to cover the ceremony, which was one of the first of its kind, added to the excitement for students.

He said coverage of the ceremony appeared on TV stations in Arizona, Colorado and Tennessee, and it appeared on websites like the Daily Mail in England, the Huffington Post and the Chicago Tribune, among others.

“I think that part in and of itself made the kids feel that much more special,” Wakeley said. “Even though, when they initially heard what we were going to do, there was a little disappointment. The hype that it got made it more special.”

Wakeley said he is currently reviewing six possible scenarios for scheduling the school calendar next year.

What the 2020-21 school year will look like depends on the unfolding of Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s Restore Illinois Plan; however, it is important to prepare for the different possibilities now, Wakeley said.

“The No.1 option would be for us to start school on time and everybody in school the way they should be,” he said. “Day to day, I feel good about that. Today, I don’t feel good about that.”

This option may not be the most realistic, he noted. The next best plan would be to have a delayed start to the school year beginning after Labor Day, where some days off would be eliminated and the year could extend into June.

“If we had to move the school year back until after Labor Day and that meant we could be in school and do school the [traditional] way, with teachers in front of kids, absolutely we would want to do that,” Wakeley said.

Other scenarios officials are advising would involve split scheduling where students attend school on alternating days/times and common areas like cafeterias are not used, though that could be challenging for a high school the size of BBCHS, he said.

Wakeley said he has been talking with superintendents of Bradley, Bourbonnais and St. George school districts about possible calendar scenarios, and however things unfold, the districts would try to coordinate similar schedules.

He also said administrators would use the time leading into July to discuss instructional strategies with teachers and overview what worked and what didn’t with remote learning.

“Fortunately, we don’t have to do it overnight like we did before,” Wakeley said.

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