By Kenneth Crenshaw/Delta Staff Writer

Missouri Valley College had to go without one of its most anticipated events because of Covid restrictions and social distancing, but as of March 16, 2021, there have been actions set to return to the in-person graduation format. 

Graduation will be held at 2 p.m. May 1, on the Gregg-Mitchell Football. The estimated number of participants will be divided into two groups making 300 in total. The first group will be the 2019-2020 class who’ve had to postpone their ceremony due to the sudden end of the semester. 

Chayla Stephenson, a 2020 graduate, expressed her disinterest in returning due to it’s shared date.

“I am not a 2021 graduate,” she said “I had previously wished things would have been safe enough to return to graduate in June. I was mailed my certificate, cap, and gown. I’ve already graduated and returning just to walk wouldn’t be the same. I feel upset about missing one of the biggest accomplishments not only for myself, but for my entire family as well.” 

The remaining number of participants will be the 2021 graduating class. Just like any other commencement ceremony, Missouri Valley will have set rules, regulations, and a code of conduct to insure that students are behaving appropriately on their big day. 

Each graduate will be limited to only three guests. There will be a link emailed to the students to order guest tickets available by April 1. The three guest limit applies to children and babies as well. There will be NO EXTRA TICKETS AVAILABLE. 

The weather for the evening will be monitored ahead of schedule. If the weather forecast calls for an afternoon shower, the graduation ceremony will be moved to 11:00 AM. If forecast expects inclement weather throughout the entire day, the ceremony will be moved to the Burns gym and no guests will be allowed due to limited space. The ceremony will also be available via live stream. The link will be provided on the Missouri Valley website closer to the graduation date.

Seating is on a first come – first served basis, but will be clearly marked to allow for social distancing.  If you have guests that have limited mobility there will be a section of seating available on the track.  They should park at the Burns gym and there will be staff members with golf carts to transport guests back and forth.

Diploma covers will be distributed during the line up process. Names will be read and the graduate will proceed to the stage area, walk down the 50 yard line and then circle back to their chair.  If you have a name that is difficult to pronounce, please contact Registrar Marsha Lashley prior to May 1st. 

Masks will be required for all in attendance.

Cap and gowns were already mailed to the 2019-20 graduates.  2020-21 graduates can pick up their cap and gown in the Registrar’s Office beginning April 26th.  The office will also be open on May 1st from 9:00 am until 1:30 pm. Chairs for the graduates will be set up directly on the football field turf.  Turf and high heeled shoes do not work well together, so in order to be safe please choose your footwear carefully.

Honor cords for Presidential Scholars (3.9 – 4.0 GPA) and hoods for graduate students will be included with your cap & gown when you pick it up Since commencement takes place before the final grades are due it will be impossible to determine academic honors.  Therefore, we will use your current grade point average and announce “with honors” if you have a 3.5 or above.  Academic honors (Cum laude; Magna cum laude; Summa cum laude) will be indicated on the diploma.

Lashley provided a few tips to ensure the graduation process goes as smoothly as possible for the students and parents affiliated. 

“If there are no increase in positive cases then there will be a possibility for Students to walk across the stage at commencement,” she said. “There will be Pod seating to ensure social distancing and the safety of everyone in attendance. The president has decided there will be no hand shakes when walking to the stage. However, the Bacon awards will be handed out. There will be a professional photographer to capture the event. Handicap seating will be available for those who have issues with mobility. Ladies are warned to wear comfortable shoes that will be able to withstand walking through the turf. The pellets on the field will move and students are likely to slip. Due to limited time and spacing students are not allowed to congregate on the side areas as well as NO proposals.”