The Charles Page High School Class of 2021, having endured one of the most trying and unusual senior years in decades because of the COVID-19 pandemic, will take its final bow Saturday night.
Commencement exercises are scheduled for 7 p.m. at Memorial Stadium.
Graduates should meet at 6 p.m. in the Ed Dubie Fieldhouse, Principal Stan Trout said.
Graduating seniors — all 417 of them — will receive their diploma covers Saturday and will receive their actual diplomas in early June, pending second-semester grades and course credit checks, he said.
Because graduation will be held outdoors, Trout said, masks will be optional for graduates and guests alike.
“We expect everyone to exercise appropriate caution and observe social distancing,” he added. “The graduates will be seated 3 feet apart in accordance with the latest CDC guidelines for schools.”
But because the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention can’t control the weather, Trout said administrators have come up with their own Plan B — and C — if stormy weather moves in.
“We will monitor the weather closely,” he said. “If there is a significant chance of late-afternoon storms, we will move the ceremony up to noon. If the whole day is a wash, we will move the ceremony to the following Saturday, May 15.”
The Oral Roberts University Mabee Center in Tulsa had been reserved for graduation this year, but Trout told the school board in March that Mabee Center staff said COVID restrictions would require limiting the event to 180 students on the floor at one time with no more than six guests per student. Those limitations would have necessitated multiple ceremonies.
Trout said a survey of seniors showed that 87.4% preferred a single ceremony outside at the stadium.
Because of the pandemic, last year’s graduation was held in three sessions at the stadium.
“We worked hard to accommodate the seniors’ wishes for the venue this year,” Sand Springs Public Schools Superintendent Sherry Durkee said Thursday. “This is a special lifetime memory for them, and our efforts were guided with the goal of making it special for the students.
“I am so proud of our team of administrators, teachers and staff for their hard work during this challenging time,” Durkee said.
Speakers for the commencement exercises will include honor graduates Sadie Plowman and Sean Kuehn; Durkee; school board member Michael Mullins; district Teacher of the Year Dustin Morrow; and Charles Page history teacher Frank Cooper.
But Trout’s thoughts for graduates will likely be among the ones they remember the longest.
“Film legend Fred Astaire is remembered for his effortlessly graceful dance routines during the Golden Age of Hollywood,” he wrote in an email to the Sand Springs Leader. “It is often said of his dance partner and frequent co-star Ginger Rogers that she did everything that Fred Astaire did but did it while going backwards wearing high heels.
“This is the story of the Class of 2021,” Trout wrote. “They did everything that every other CPHS graduate has ever done, but they did it wearing COVID-19 masks, practicing social distancing, facing quarantine for exposure to positive COVID cases, and enduring periods of distance learning.
“They showed up, attended and passed their classes, excelled in sports, music, and fine arts, performed career internships, earned college credit, scholarships and concurrent college credit, and graduated with honors,” he continued.
“The CPHS Class of 2021 is memorable for teaching us the value of persistence in the face of adversity. They have not taken their eyes off the prize even for a second this year and they are as distinguished as every other graduating class, but more remarkable because of the conditions that they have overcome and the glad spirit in which they did it.”