Varina High School
Tuesday, June 15 at 6 p.m.
June 14 – 17
“Pomp and Circumstance,” proud families, heartfelt speeches and awarding of diplomas — all in person. Students and families have dreamed of this moment, and in 2021 it’s going to happen! This June, the Class of 2021 at each HCPS high school will get its own in-person ceremony.
Your class gets the traditional ceremony you deserve
HCPS has 10 high schools and two Advanced Career Education Centers. This June, our longtime partner Richmond Raceway has agreed to provide use of its impressive facility for a week’s worth of traditional outdoor graduation ceremonies. (This is different than last year, when the Raceway generously served as the site of graduation “Victory Laps” for graduating seniors, who were driven around the track inside a vehicle.)
Under state guidelines in place during the planning stages for HCPS graduations, most of our ceremonies required an outdoor venue large enough to accommodate an entire school’s senior class in person at one time. Richmond Raceway has the capacity and expertise to deal with large crowds, parking and public safety issues, and to comply with state health directives.
In accordance with updated pandemic directives from Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, HCPS has adjusted some plans for its traditional in-person graduation ceremonies. Northam’s Executive Order 79, effective May 28, brings Virginia’s policies in line with COVID-19 pandemic guidance issued May 13 by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In accordance with the new state directives:
- Masks will not be required for those attending the graduation ceremonies. However, the governor’s directive strongly encourages those who are unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated to wear masks in all settings.
- Each graduate will now be able to invite eight guests, instead of four. (Graduates will still receive only four printed tickets for admission to the ceremony, because the tickets were printed before the new guidelines were issued. However, each ticket will now admit two guests.)
- Attendees will not be required to physically distance or sit together in “pods” of guests.
While Virginia’s pandemic restrictions were eased earlier than the expected June 15 date, planning for the 10 Richmond Raceway ceremonies was well underway. While a change to an indoor venue was not an option, measures have been taken to accommodate June temperatures:
- The starting times of graduations are taking place slightly earlier in the day (compared to prior years) in order to avoid some of the hottest potential late afternoon heat.
- HCPS high schools are planning to reduce the length of their ceremonies — which can typically last up to 100 minutes — to 70 minutes or less.
- Graduating seniors will assemble in the shade beneath the grandstands before their ceremonies and will have ample access to water.
- Guests may bring a factory-sealed bottle of water to the ceremonies.
How graduation ceremonies at Richmond Raceway will work:
- As the ceremonies begin, graduates (in cap and gown) will emerge from the staging area beneath the grandstands and process in front of family and friends.
- Students descend to the track and cross to the seating area.
- Rows of student seats will be spaced on the grassy infield.
- Welcoming remarks, student speeches, songs and other attributes of a traditional graduation ceremony will be included. At the appropriate moment, students will ascend a stage, located between the grassy infield and “pit road,” to receive their diplomas.