Seniors of Roswell Independent School District will get at least one celebration as the district conducts a parade in the Wool Bowl parking lot Saturday morning.
Throughout the morning, vehicles will enter and proceed through the stadium’s parking lot, with seniors receiving a special message from the school board at a drive-up stage decorated in all the schools’ colors.
A letter will be sent to parents and students with details of the event.
Initially last week, RISD had been told by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s office and the Public Education Department no school-sponsored parades would be allowed, nor would school personnel be allowed to take part in any parades. That directive canceled a kindergarten graduation parade scheduled for Friday morning by Pecos Elementary School.
However, later that day, Superintendent Mike Gottlieb said, he received an email from the governor’s office reversing the decision on parades. No reason for the change was given, he said.
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For now, commencement ceremonies in June or alternatively July are still planned, Gottlieb said.
Those plans would have ceremonies allowing students to walk the stage to get their diplomas the weekend of June 19 if the state’s health order allows larger public gatherings by June 13. July 17 and 18 are alternate dates.
“What happens if we don’t have the one in June or July? Then we didn’t celebrate for our kids at all,” Gottlieb said.
“We’re trying to do a variety of things to acknowledge their accomplishments for going through and finishing up their education,” he said.
“We are just so excited and so happy for them and we want to celebrate and come together as a big RISD family. We’ve just been through so much this year,” Jennifer Cole, interim assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction, said. “They deserve to have as much celebrating as we can do for them.”
That includes salutary messages on two North Main Street electronic billboards running for four weeks. The salutes can be seen now on billboards at 2710 N. Main and 3204 N. Main.
District officials stressed that for Saturday’s event, students and their family members must stay in the vehicle.
“That was very plain with that letter from the governor’s office, the secretary of education, they need to stay in their vehicles. We will do everything from the vehicles including handing them a message from the school board,” Gottlieb said.
“We don’t want parents standing around, we don’t want people holding signs because that violates the guidelines,” he said.
The graduate should be wearing their cap and gown and be seated on the passenger side. A photographer will be on hand and digital photos will be sent to the students.
L.J. Harrell, RISD school safety liaison, worked with the Roswell Police Department to determine traffic flow. Officers from Roswell PD along with the Chaves County Sheriff’s Office and the State Police will be on hand to direct traffic.
North Grand Avenue will be closed to general traffic beginning at 7 a.m. from 19th Street to East College Boulevard. Vehicles with the students will line up along North Grand from the north and enter the Wool Bowl parking lot from the east, near the softball complex. They will exit from the same location.
“There’s enough room there to hold about 220 vehicles,” Harrell said, “so we’ll create two lines once they get inside the parking lot.”
Only vehicles with students will be allowed in the parking lot.
“The way we’re staging the vehicles, there really is not room to bring any other vehicles in,” Harrell said.
Artesia radio station KSVP will livestream the parade.
Roswell High School will be first. Vehicles with RHS students can begin lining up at 7:30 a.m. with the parade starting at 8:30 a.m.
Early College High School and University High School will begin lining up at 9:30 a.m. with their parades starting at 10 a.m. Goddard High School vehicles can begin lining up at that time, with their parade at 11 a.m.
Gottlieb said the district hopes businesses will decorate their storefronts to show their support for the graduates.
Cole said the district wants to extend the celebration to the community.
“We want it to be about all the students in our community and really just showing some solidarity and support for all of our schools together,” she said.
To keep up with local coverage of the coronavirus, go to rdrnews.com/category/news/covid-19-situation/.
City/RISD reporter Juno Ogle can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or email@example.com.