Graduation to require compliance with many restrictions


Emily Mulderig

The Wilson administration is adhering to many regulations in order to hold in-person graduation at Audi Field at noon on June 22.

When DCPS chose the venue to hold many of this year’s high school graduation ceremonies at, they rented—and paid for—just a small fraction of the total number of seats. So while the stadium can hold 20,000 people, attendees will be seated only in certain sections. This limits each graduate to inviting only three family members or guests, even though most of the stadium will be empty. 

Walking on the field is mostly prohibited, so instead of being seated on the field itself, students will be seated on one side of the stadium and the stage will be set up on the field. The stage will be facing away from the students, who will watch the ceremony on the jumbotron screen. 

To accommodate social distancing precautions, guests will be seated in pods and students will sit in every other seat. All attendees will be required to wear masks.

Wilson is allotted two hours for the graduation ceremony, but seating everyone will likely require more time than it has in previous years, due to the large size and stairs of the stadium. Dunbar High School’s graduation will take place at Audi Field the same morning as Wilson’s, leaving the administration to have to set up quickly. 

According to assistant principal Gregory Bargeman, it will be easier to predict the duration of the ceremony once the graduating class has practiced at the Wilson field, set to happen on June 18. “We’ll be trying to create [a layout] similar to that by practicing in the athletic stadium for Wilson High School because we don’t get the practice in the actual location,” Bargeman said.

Because graduates will have to descend the steep stadium stairs to receive their diploma and walk on the grassy field behind the stage afterward, high-heeled shoes are not allowed. Additionally, bringing water into the stadium is prohibited, along with passing out paper programs. There will be electronic programs instead.

Wilson is one of 16 DCPS high schools that hold its graduation at Audi Field between June 21 and June 24, with four occurring throughout the day on June 22. 

Despite the challenges presented by holding graduation outdoors during a pandemic, the Wilson administration is committed to ensuring the ceremony is a positive experience. “We are challenged, but we will make everything work,” Bargeman said. •