Students of color

Cameron Booker looked forward to the traditional in-person graduation ceremony. Unfortunately, that won’t happen.

“It’s something that I got to see everyone else do. I probably won’t experience it until I graduate from college,” said Booker, who will graduate from Warren Central High School at 7 p.m. June 13. The school will have a virtual commencement.

In response to health advisory mandates given by Mayor Joe Hogsett and Gov. Eric Holcomb, Indianapolis school district officials decided to hold virtual graduation ceremonies for seniors. 

Rich Shepler, principal at Warren Central, was saddened by the sudden, yet necessary changes to graduation traditions.

“Being able to shake their hand and give them a hug at graduation — that’s has been taken away from me as much as it has our kids. Truly, it’s hit us all very hard,” Shepler said.

A boys basketball sectional game between Warren Central and Lawrence Central High School took place on March 6. Several people who attended the game contracted COVID-19 and later died. 

“Because of this tragedy, we want to make sure we’re doing what’s right and what’s safe,” Shepler added. “Going forward, we’re taking all of the necessary precautions.”

In addition to a virtual ceremony, there will be an in-person event for the graduates and their families June 16-18.

“We’ll walk each family through individually, and Principal Shepler will be there to hand students their diplomas and take photos,” said Bre Brown, assistant principal at Warren Central. “This way, there’s at least some type of in-person acknowledgement of their accomplishments.”

Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) district recently held virtual graduations for Arsenal Technical, George Washington, Crispus Attucks and Shortridge high schools. 

“We didn’t make this decision lightly,” said Aleesia Johnson, IPS superintendent. “We assembled an advisory group of high school seniors to get their ideas. In the end, students wanted to mark their graduation, as scheduled, in June and felt a virtual celebration was a fitting option in a time of social distancing.”

Contact newsroom intern Mikaili Azziz at 317-924-5143. Follow her on Twitter @mikailiazziz.


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