Graduation plans coming into focus
By Bobby Bryant, Editor
As the Darlington County School District heads into its final month of classes, concluding a school year that has been shaped by struggles with COVID-19, plans are falling into place for graduations that should be more relaxed than 2020’s ceremonies were. Last year, COVID cautions restricted seniors to bringing only two guests to graduation ceremonies largely held at high-school football stadiums so that guests could be socially distanced in the stands. This year, most of the district’s graduations again will be held at schools’ respective stadiums, but seniors are being allowed “at least” four guests – perhaps more at some schools, but all of that is still being worked out at this point. All four public high schools in Darlington County are holding graduations the same day, June 11, the district says. Darlington High, Hartsville High and Lamar High will hold ceremonies at 9 a.m. at their respective stadiums. Mayo High School for Math, Science and Technology, which lacks a stadium, will hold ceremonies at 10:30 a.m. in Mayo’s parking lot. Some graduation details – such as whether all students and guests will have to wear face masks – are being determined. District officials say the district soon will announce final plans. Like last year, the district plans to distribute what are loosely called “senior tabs” – small publications with photos of all the district’s graduating seniors. Last year, they were printed on newsprint; this year, they are to be printed on slick magazine-style paper, said district spokesman Chris McKagen. Also like last year, the district plans to let seniors keep their laptop computers that they’ve generally been using throughout high school. If a student is not up to date on paying the district its “technology fees,” the student would have to make those up before taking the computer home permanently. Letting seniors keep their laptops is “one token of how much we appreciate them and what they’ve gone through this year,” Darlington County Education Superintendent Tim Newman told the school board during its May 10 meeting. Newman said students have e-mailed him, asking, “Dr. Newman, can we please, please, please, please have a concert, because we’ve worked so hard?” “I want to say to those students … we had this discussion, and we are looking forward to seeing our schools put back together in a safe way for our students to have a concert outside,” Newman told the school board members. No date was mentioned. In other business May 10, the school board gave initial approval to the district’s budget for next fiscal year. According to the discussion, the district is hoping to give all employees an approximately 2 percent raise.