By Tim Gardner
For the second consecutive year, Avery County High School will not hold graduation ceremonies on campus. In 2020, they were held off-campus because of the State of North Carolina’s social distancing guidelines due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This year, they will be held at a neutral site due to a lack of parking and related problems because of the ongoing construction facilities and renovations at the high school.
This is only the second time in the school’s 52-year history that graduation is not being held either in its football stadium or gymnasium.
Avery High’s 2021 graduation ceremonies will be held the evening of Thursday, May 27 with a rain date for Friday, May 28 at picturesque McRae Meadows near Grandfather Mountain. Graduation will commence at 5:00 p.m. Seniors are asked to arrive at McRae Meadows no later than 3:30 p.m. on May 27. Gates will open for families of those graduating at 4:00 p.m. Families and other guests are asked to bring their own lawn chairs to sit in during the graduation.
“Our graduation commencement ceremony will be totally traditional, including recognition of, and remarks from, the valedictorian, salutatorian and others, including myself,” said Dan Brigman, superintendent of Avery County Schools. “This ceremony will honor the hard work and the transition of our Avery High graduating seniors to the next stages of their lives.”
According to Brigman, there are 146 graduating seniors in the Class of 2021, including 21 who are mid-term graduates. The latter graduated earlier this spring after fulfilling the academic criteria to earn a graduation diploma. The remaining 125 will have fulfilled those same requirements by May 28.
Avery County school officials along with Avery High faculty and students serving on its planning committee have been ironing out the details of the graduation for weeks.
For the second straight year, the school system received approval from Jesse Pope, Executive Director of the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation, to use McRae Meadows.
School officials are still finalizing specifics of the graduation plans, Brigman added.
He said those also would be announced in the next few days.
“Additional graduation information will be available soon and we must remain flexible as we plan this event due to weather and additional guidelines that may be given in reference to by the state and federal governments concerning the COVID-19 Pandemic,” Brigman noted.