Football field graduation OK’d
Graduates limited to inviting six guests to saturday ceremony
Athens High School’s senior commencement ceremony will still occur this Saturday, July 25, but with a change in the venue.
The Athens Board of Education gave permission at Monday’s meeting to allow Juli Gauerke-Peter, Athens High School principal, to hold the graduation ceremony on the high school football field instead of in the gymnasium at 11 a.m.
Gauerke-Peter originally hoped to hold a traditional graduation ceremony on the brand new high school gymnasium floor installed this summer but said it’s more important the school district keep its senior graduates and their families safe from contacting the coronavirus.
“I know the kids are at a point they just want whatever type of graduation ceremony they can get,” she said. “They just want to turn the page and move on with their lives.” Athens High School remains closed to essential staff only through at least Sunday, July 26, due to the Marathon County Health Department announcing last week the county is still at a high-risk level for COVID-19.
Saturday’s high school graduation ceremony is an inviteonly event this year because of the coronavirus pandemic; others besides the six people each family invited shouldn’t attend the ceremony. The graduation ceremony will be live streamed so people not invited to the in-person ceremony can still watch it from their homes.
Gauerke-Peter said graduates would enter the high school track on Saturday at the same location where football players walk from the locker room onto the field for games. Graduates would walk on the track in front of the high school home football bleachers, before they assume their spot on the bleachers six feet apart from each other.
She said school board members would be seated on blue chairs on the track, while each family of six people would be seated inside blocked off areas on the high school football field six feet apart from each of the other families’ blocks.
Gauerke-Peter told the school board at Monday’s meeting the Marathon County Health Department is not requiring students and their families to wear protective masks during Saturday’s graduation ceremony. She would like each school board member, however, to wear a mask while they distribute diplomas to graduates. She’s also encouraging school board members to use hand sanitizer before handing out each diploma.
In other school news:
_ School board member Steve Janke requested Jeff Mastin, Athens schools superintendent, allow the school board to decide how Athens schools should reopen to students this fall.
_ The Athens school board voted 4-3 to hire Neola for a total of $43,675 over the next 10 years to update school board policies. School board members Tom Ellenbecker, Jessica Frahm, Shanon Peel and Tim Krueger voted yes. School board members Julie Guenther, Steve Janke and Kenny Ellenbecker voted no.
Athens School District resident Jim Peter opposed the contract. He claimed school district taxpayers are paying large salaries to school district administrators and they should update school board policies themselves. Mastin told Jim Peter school district administrators, like himself, aren’t attorneys who are properly trained how to update school board policies each school year.