Henrico, Va. May 11, 2020 — Senior year for Henrico County Public Schools’ Class of 2020 has been anything but typical, and its commencement festivities will be just as unique. With regular June commencement ceremonies at VCU’s Siegel Center called off to combat the spread of coronavirus, each HCPS high school will celebrate its seniors with a three-part “Graduation Celebration 2020” instead.

The three events will include a virtual “Graduation Ceremony Watch Party,” a “Graduation Victory Lap” at Richmond Raceway and a “Cap and Gown Photo Session” for each graduate, capturing the moment they accept their diploma. The events will enable graduates and their families and friends to mark the special occasion while also prioritizing health and safety.

Graduation Ceremony Watch Party (June 8-11)

This TV, video and social-media event will enable graduates and loved ones to watch and experience commencement from home, while observing coronavirus health and safety guidelines. It will include many of the elements of a traditional graduation, such as student speeches and remarks from local dignitaries. It is during this event that seniors will officially be pronounced “graduates.” Most important of all will be the recognition of each senior as their pictures are shown and their names are announced ceremoniously in a video slideshow, enabling each graduate to have a well-earned moment in the spotlight. HCPS’ livestream of the virtual ceremony, as well as a cable television simulcast, will allow families to plan small at-home “watch parties” to help celebrate graduates. Experiences posted on social media will make the experience a shared celebration.

Graduation Victory Lap (June 10-12, rain date June 13)

The second element of Graduation Celebration 2020 will give seniors and their families a chance to gather and “process” safely as a group, while enjoying a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Richmond Raceway has offered HCPS use of “America’s Premier Short Track” for a “Graduation Victory Lap,” where graduates and their immediate family members will parade in cars around the historic oval. Seniors will arrive in decorated vehicles (one vehicle per graduate, with a nine-passenger limit) and be directed to the track by a Richmond Raceway pace car. Once in “pole position,” they will be able to tune into HCPS’ student radio station to hear “Pomp and Circumstance” (and possibly other special messages!) while cruising toward victory lane. Principals will be there to wave the checkered flag as each graduate crosses the finish line while their names are announced in front of school faculty members and local dignitaries.

Cap and Gown Photo Session (Specific day and time will be determined by each school.)

The culmination of Graduation Celebration 2020 will be a chance for graduates to pose in their caps and gowns, accepting their diplomas, in individual photos taken by a professional photographer. Each graduate will have a scheduled time to come to their high school, receive their diploma and pose for an iconic picture. HCPS will cover the cost of one 8-by-10 print for each graduate.

Seniors and their families will receive more detailed information about Graduation Celebration 2020 from their principals.