2020 Graduation Ceremonies – Superintendent Student Advisory Council

The Superintendent Student Advisory Council weighs in on the 2020 Graduation Ceremonies decision.

Graduation 2020

DeKalb Schools announced earlier this week that the original 2020 graduation ceremonies will be moved from the week of May 18-23rd to the week of June 22-27th. The two options the school district is currently considering are
• Virtual Graduation
• Hybrid Face-to-Face with seniors and staff only (will live stream and broadcast on Comcast channel PDSTV24 for families and friends)


The DeKalb Schools Superintendent Student Advisory Council has requested:

1) Move graduation exercises to a later date than June 22-27, 2020, preferably in mid to late July, or at a later date in 2020, in order to provide a full traditional graduation experience. Other Metro-Atlanta counties have postponed their graduation and promised a traditional graduation, pending the date. An ambiguous date is more ideal so long as a traditional graduation is guaranteed. Give schools autonomy to determine a proper date and be able to use pre-existing facilities to put on graduation (stadiums, auditoriums, gyms, etc.).

2) If hybrid graduations are necessary, schools should be able to decide whether or not they would like to host the graduation on-site (in a gym or auditorium) or at the AIC.

3) Give school Principal Advisory Councils more autonomy in developing creative graduation options that best suit their respective community, alongside their own PTSO, student body, and administrative leaders.


Thank you for this well written letter. I’m confident the administration will deliberate over your reasonable requests. I would like to see a full traditional graduation experience. If the school district isn’t going to have the ceremonies at the World Congress Center, then I don’t see why the high school community can’t have a say in the graduation ceremonies.

Here is the complete letter From: the Superintendent Student Advisory Council

To: Mrs. Ramona Tyson, Superintendent
CC: [DCSD Board and Administration]
From: The Dekalb County School District Superintendent Student Advisory Council
Date: April 16, 2020
Subject: Class of 2020 Graduation Exercises

We, the members of The Dekalb County School District Superintendent Student Advisory Council, would like to congratulate you on receiving the well-deserved title of Superintendent of The Dekalb County School District. We acknowledge your tireless effort in the continued growth and development of our schools. We thank The Dekalb County School District Board Members for noticing and recognizing your outstanding work, work that supersedes any seen before. As your Advisory Council, it is our responsibility to notify you of concerns of students across the district and there are a few concerns reflective of the students in our district that we would like to share from the Class of 2020 regarding graduation exercises.

We, members of the Class of 2020, are writing to you today in light of the recent decision regarding graduation exercises. After viewing yesterday’s virtual board meeting, we are saddened and frustrated with the options you have provided students who have worked over 12+ years for this significant life milestone. We recognize the difficulties that you, as a decision-making body, are facing due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but we are disheartened by the outcome of your deliberations. We are disappointed that student government leaders and senior class sponsors were not given an opportunity to voice our concerns or share some of the commitments we face prior to going to college that could impact the scheduling of future graduation activities prior to the announcement of this decision and we feel that the options provided miss the mark in providing a special, necessary occasion for seniors. Therefore, we would like to share some ideas that we have regarding the 2020 graduation exercises for all seniors in Dekalb County.

Rather than being bussed to a county office, we ask that we are able to graduate somewhere that holds the sentimental value to the student body at either a school, stadium, or gym, and a place where families, teachers, and mentors are present. Graduation is a time to not only celebrate the accomplishment of all DeKalb seniors but as well as all of the individuals who have guided them to this point. We are urging you today to reconsider your position regarding graduation exercises and discuss measures that would allow for an increase in local autonomy of Principal Advisory Councils in making graduation decisions or provide the appropriate graduation ceremony that the thousands of DeKalb County students and families deserve.

Below we have included our recommendations and hope that Principal Advisory Councils or student body leaders are able to participate in the decision making process for our graudation. Please understand that it is our intention to fully comply with state and local health regulations at that given time.

1) Move graduation exercises to a later date than June 22-27, 2020, preferably in mid to late July, or at a later date in 2020, in order to provide a full traditional graduation experience. Other Metro-Atlanta counties have postponed their graduation and promised a traditional graduation, pending the date. An ambiguous date is more ideal so long as a traditional graduation is guaranteed. Give schools autonomy to determine a proper date and be able to use pre-existing facilities to put on graduation (stadiums, auditoriums, gyms, etc.).

2) If hybrid graduations are necessary, schools should be able to decide whether or not they would like to host the graduation on-site (in a gym or auditorium) or at the AIC.

3) Give school Principal Advisory Councils more autonomy in developing creative graduation options that best suit their respective community, alongside their own PTSO, student body, and administrative leaders.

We understand that these times are challenging however, we can not overlook the sleepless nights, and hard work that we have put in for over the last several years. For some of us, this will be the first and only time we will be able to get formally recognized for achieving a tremendous milestone, as we may pursue other post secondary options other than college. We hope that you will understand and respect our wishes. In light of all, we appreciate the hard work you and your team have been putting in day in and day out to help Dekalb County families, teachers, and students get through this unprecedented time. You serve as a role model not only to the senior Class of 2020, but also to many people in the community of Dekalb County, Georgia. Thank you so much.

Respectfully,

DCSD Superintendent Student Advisory Council Members:
Brandon Smith, Arabia Mountain HS Student Government President
Lauren Lindsay, Arabia Mountain HS Senior Class President
Lucy Adelman, Chamblee Charter HS Student Body President
Solange Jackson, Chamblee Charter HS Senior Class President
Stephany Ramirez, Cross Keys HS Senior Class President
London-Skye Roberson, Dekalb School of the Arts Student Body President
Matt Beiger, Dunwoody HS Student Government President
Marina von Behren, Dunwoody HS Senior Class President
Natalie Stembel, Lakeside High School Student Body Co-President
Amy Nguyen, Lakeside High School Student Body Co-President
Nya Bostic, Southwest DeKalb HS Student Government President
Asharri Andrews, Stephenson HS Student Body Vice President
Derontay Dennis-Burse, Stone Mountain HS Student Body President
Amina Jeylani, Stone Mountain HS Student Body Vice-President

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