Federal Way schools outline plans for graduating senior celebrations, traditions

Virtual graduation ceremonies will be broadcast on local Channel 21, Facebook Live and YouTube on June 13.

Federal Way Public Schools’ recently released a new end-of-the-year plan on Thursday afternoon, detailing virtual graduations ceremonies, a celebratory senior parade and more.

Due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, FWPS was forced to redesign many traditions surrounding celebrations, experiences and academics leading up to the last day of school.

Superintendent Tammy Campbell and district staff have requested and gathered feedback from graduating seniors, high school students, parents and staff in order to uphold experiences that meet current safety guidelines and hold meaning to the celebrated individuals.

“Graduation is a huge achievement,” Campbell wrote to students and parents on May 7. “COVID-19 may prevent us from having typical senior year celebrations, but it doesn’t lessen the importance of achieving a high school diploma. We are proud of you, and we are excited to honor and celebrate your accomplishments.”

Social distancing measures will be maintained at all times in accordance with state guidance, the district noted in a May 7 letter to FWPS students and parents.

Graduation cap and gown and congratulatory Class of 2020 yard sign pickup will be May 13-14.

Graduating seniors from Federal Way High School, Thomas Jefferson High School, Truman Campus: Career Academy, Open Doors and Internet academy will pick up their items Wednesday, May 13.

Students graduating from Decatur High School, Todd Beamer High School, TAF@Saghalie and the Employment Transition program will pick up their items Thursday, May 14.

These items will be distributed at specific times, based on a student’s school and last name, according to the district.

Senior graduation walk recording, May 20 or May 21

Seniors who have met or are close to meeting all graduation requirements will have the opportunity to participate in a senior graduation walk at their school on May 20 or 21.

The graduation walk honors candidates for graduation and provides an opportunity to walk and receive their diploma cover while wearing their cap and gown. The walk is also recorded and inserted into the virtual graduation ceremony. Professional photos of each student will be captured and available for purchase.

Those who are unable to participate in the graduation walk at their high school may submit an appropriate cap and gown photo here.

Class of 2020 School Car Parade Experience, 12–2 p.m. June 12

Each high school will be hosting a School Car Parade Experience on June 12 for the Class of 2020 on Friday, June 12, at their respective school locations. FWPS is limiting participation to one car per graduating senior due to space and traffic considerations.

Due to ongoing school construction, Thomas Jefferson High School will host this event at an alternate location. Principals at each high school will provide additional information about each parade.

Virtual Graduation Ceremony, June 13

Virtual graduations have replaced in-person ceremonies this year for FWPS seniors. Each virtual ceremony will include speeches from keynote speakers and a reading of graduate names, and will be accompanied by the graduation walk video or cap and gown photo, along with an acceptance of the Class of 2020 and traditional turning of the tassel.

Ceremonies will be broadcast on multiple platforms, including local Channel 21, Facebook and YouTube on June 13 in the following schedule:

  • Decatur High School: 9 a.m.
  • Federal Way High School: 10:30 a.m.
  • Todd Beamer High School: noon
  • Thomas Jefferson High School: 1:30 p.m.
  • Career Academy, Open Doors and Internet Academy: 3 p.m.
  • Employment Transition Program: 4:30 p.m.
  • TAF@Saghalie: 5:30 p.m.

After June 13, a copy of the video will be made available to seniors and their families to download, the district noted.