NOTE: Principal Douglas Wildes sent the following communication to Elmwood Park High School students and families on May 15, 2020. To translate this into a language of your choice, go to the top right corner of this page where the Google Translate button (titled "Select Language") is located, and choose from the menu of available languages. Links to all of District 401's COVID-19 communications can be found at our Update Center.
To: EPHS Class of 2020 and Families
Re: Drive-In Graduation Ceremony
We hope you and your families have maintained your health and stayed positive throughout this Remote Learning experience. This senior class has been through one of the most difficult nine-week stretches imaginable to end your high school careers. The loss of in-person instruction for your final quarter of school, the loss of the spring sports season, and the cancellation of nearly every spring event and ceremony has challenged the mindsets of even the most positive people.
Every adult staff and family member truly feels for what the Class of 2020 has had to go through. Those "rites of passage" that all of us got to experience during the spring of our senior year (prom, unapproved senior ditch days, organizing the most memorable senior prank the school has ever seen) have all been taken from you. Instead of having the typical "senioritis" that comes with being a second-semester senior, many of you have unthinkably been wishing you could just be in the school one last time … to see your friends and teachers in the classroom, hallways and cafeteria of Elmwood Park High School. We all wish we could give you that one last time.
Though we could not give you any of these positive and lasting memories during your final quarter of high school at EPHS, we want to let you know that we have organized a special graduation ceremony just for YOU! With the social distancing guidelines still in place throughout the state of Illinois, graduation ceremonies are quite tricky to design and get approved. There are many safety restrictions and gathering limitations we need to follow that significantly limit our graduation ceremony options. With that in mind, we are happy to announce that EPHS has been granted permission from the state and county to conduct our graduation ceremony on Sunday, June 14. This graduation ceremony will be the first of its kind for EPHS. This ceremony will be as unique as the experience the Class of 2020 has gone through this quarter.
This graduation ceremony will be a drive-in graduation ceremony. Since most of you young adults have probably never experienced a "drive-in" movie, we will provide the details for our drive-in graduation ceremony below. As stated earlier, we have very strict guidelines we need to follow during our drive-in graduation ceremony. We must conduct our graduation ceremony in "waves," all students and families must remain in their vehicles throughout the event, and we must maintain all social distancing safety and health guidelines.
All graduates and their family members will arrive by a vehicle 30 minutes prior to their scheduled graduation timeframe (counselor alpha breakdown). Each graduate is allowed only ONE vehicle for them and their family (no exceptions). All graduates should come with their diploma covers and dress in their cap, gown and awards they received on June 4 (please see the communication titled "EPHS End-of-Year Drop-off & Pick-Up Information" for details).
When you arrive to campus, please enter the south parking lot on the east side of the building (near the tennis courts). As you drive around to the south lot, a staff member will give you a graduation program and your assigned parking spot. We will then conduct our graduation ceremony. Speeches will be played over speakers, and then we will call students up individually to take a graduation picture with their cap, gown and diploma at the graduation stage set up near Door 19.
Unfortunately, no families are allowed to leave their vehicles to take pictures, but we will live-stream the event and also have a camera person to take photos of each graduate (the video and photos will be available on our website). After the picture is taken, that graduate will return to their car and the next graduate will be called up. Once all the graduates have been called and their pictures are taken, that group of graduates will exit the parking lot through the west exit near the baseball field. When the parking lot is cleared, the next group of graduates will come in and we will repeat the ceremony for them.
Schedule for June 14, 2020
- Last Names: A through G — 9 to 11 a.m.
- Last Names: H through Perez — 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
- Last Names: Perf through Z — 1 to 3 p.m.
- Vehicles enter the south lot at the east entrance (near tennis courts) 30 minutes prior to your ceremony’s start time.
- Decorations on vehicles are allowable — provided they do not restrict visibility for other vehicles.
- Each graduate is allowed one vehicle for the ceremony.
- Each graduate should bring their diploma cover and come dressed in their cap, gown and any awards.
- Each vehicle will receive a graduation program and an assigned parking spot upon entrance.
- The graduation ceremony will begin at the time listed above.
- No family members are allowed to leave the vehicle.
- Graduates will be allowed to leave their vehicles only when their name is called.
- During the part of the ceremony when the graduate's name is called, they will walk up to the stage near Door 19 with their diploma cover, cap and gown to take a photo on stage.
- The graduate will then return to their vehicle.
- The ceremony will be live-streamed, and a District employee will take photographs.
- Once the last graduate's name is called and the ceremony concludes, vehicles will exit the south lot at the west exit (near the baseball field).
- After the parking lot is cleared, the next group of graduates will enter and the next ceremony will begin.
Alternative Procedures in the Event of Bad Weather
In case of inclement weather, we have an alternative plan where the students will be dropped off outside the auditorium, and they will individually come into the building to walk across the graduation stage set up in the auditorium.
Students will then leave the auditorium and exit the building to return to their vehicles and then leave the property. No family members will be allowed into the building with the graduates, but this event will also be live-streamed and photographed.
A Final Thanks to Our EPHS Seniors and Families
We are very excited to be able to organize this unique event and, ultimately, celebrate our EPHS Graduating Class of 2020! We are hopeful that this will be a smooth and memorable graduation ceremony, but we ask for your patience in advance as this is new for all of us. We cannot thank you enough for your understanding and cooperation as we try our best to navigate this celebration in a safe and orderly manner.
We look forward to seeing everyone on Sunday, June 14, and look forward to making this a memorable event for all our Elmwood Park High School families and the Class of 2020.
With Tiger Pride,
Mr. Douglas J. Wildes
Principal, Elmwood Park High School