ST. CLOUD -- Students in the St. Cloud Area School District will be able to once again experience several rites of passage this spring.

At Wednesday night's school board meeting, Assistant Superintendent of Secondary Education Laurie Putnam announced the current plan to bring back in-person prom and graduation ceremonies as well as other year-end celebrations.

McKinley-ALC will be hosting a day prom at 1:30 p.m. on May 13th. Apollo and Tech high schools will have their proms for junior and senior students only on May 15th. Grand marches for each school begin at 7:30 p.m. with one spectator allowed per student. The marches will also be live-streamed. Both proms will follow and run until 11:00 p.m. with a 250 person limit. Putnam says students will be put into pods of six and the pods will be kept six feet apart at the event.

The last day of school for seniors in the district is May 24th. Students can turn in their devices and pick up their caps, gowns, and graduation tickets on May 24th and May 25th.

Graduation ceremonies will then be held at River's Edge Convention Center on May 27th for Tech and May 28th for Apollo. Each school will have three ceremonies broken down by last name with  A through G at 5:00 p.m., H through M at 7:00 p.m., and N through Z at 9:00 p.m. Students will be given four tickets, and their families will be seated in pods of four, six feet apart. Doors open 30 minutes before each ceremony, and the space will be sanitized in-between. The ceremonies will include recorded music from the band, choir, and orchestra, live speeches, and the distribution of diplomas.

Because of COVID-19 restrictions last year, students were unable to have normal in-person graduation celebrations, leading to some creative alternatives. Due to overwhelmingly positive reactions, Putnam says this year, they've decided to bring back both the graduation parades and the virtual graduation ceremonies.

Tech's graduation parade will be held from 5:00 p.m. until 7:00 p.m. on May 25th, and Apollo's will be held from 5:00 p.m. until 7:00 p.m. on the 26th. Putnam says it's one vehicle per senior, and students are encouraged to decorate the cars.

The virtual graduation ceremonies will be available online at 9:00 p.m. on the day of the graduation for each school and will include the music, speeches, and diploma distribution, as well as the full presentation of the class of 2021.

Elementary and middle school students will also see the return of their end-of-the-year events including 5th-grade fond farewells, 8th-grade graduations, track and field days, spring flings, and student showcases.

The plans outlined at the meeting could change based on new guidance from the Minnesota Department of Health and the Minnesota Department of Education following Governor Tim Walz's address Thursday.

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