Albert Lea school board hears graduation plans

Published 5:14 am Tuesday, May 3, 2022

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With May here, Albert Lea school board members on Monday heard an update on graduation ceremony plans at Albert Lea High School presented by Chris Dibble, the high school principal.

“Eighteen days away,” he said. “Twelve school days for seniors left to go.”

He also mentioned how watching the senior dinner dance and prom and seeing the students have fun was “an emotional journey for me.”

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There are two options for where graduation — slated for 7 p.m. May 20 — could be. Dibble said the date would remain the same regardless of which option is chosen. 

Plan A would be if there is good weather and it would be at Hammer Field.

“If we go with the Hammer plan, we will have the stage set up in the west end zone,” he said.

Doing so would put the scoreboard behind the stage. Both sets of grandstands would be open, and no tickets would be required.

“Open to the public,” he said. “As many people who want to come can come,” he said. “Our seating is over 2,000 with that, and that is plenty.”

Students and teachers would be on the field in front of the stage.

Music would be recorded, although the choir would perform live in the middle of the ceremony.

There would not be a recession.

“We will simply say, ‘Thanks for coming, you are invited down to the field for pictures at this time,’” he said.

According to Dibble, that would allow families to come down and take pictures near the stage and scoreboard.

A decision on whether it would be live-streamed hasn’t been determined.

Plan B would be if there is bad weather and the ceremony would be in the high school gym. According to Dibble, when floor seating is added, capacity is roughly the same as Hammer Field.

“We’ll have a stage set up,” he said. “This is back to kind of what we did before with the stage in the auxiliary gym with a live-stream on the school website.”

Like Plan A, no tickets would be required.

To create more room, students, teachers and some families would be on the floor, and both sides of the gym would be open.

“Again, recorded processional music, the live choir performance,” he said.

In Plan B, students would be recessed out, although they would be allowed to come back in for pictures. 

In either plan, three empty chairs with flowers will be in the front row to commemorate students lost throughout the years of the senior class.

“That was decided with the families, with the students and with school personnel,” he said.

The decision on whether commencement will be inside or outside will be made Friday morning, unless the new stage isn’t in.

“And then we have to make the decision by Wednesday night on weather,” he said. “We’re hoping that those pieces, the rest of the pieces of the stage and the backdrop are here. We have a new stage for Hammer Field coming in, but we don’t know if all the pieces will be here. That’s the world we live in.”

This year’s speakers will include Dibble, Superintendent Mike Funk and School Board Chairman Neal Skaar. A student speaker has yet to be determined.

“How we pick our student speaker, they have their speeches due this Friday to the office,” he said. “They will present them to us next Tuesday, and we pick the person who will be speaking next Thursday.”

In either plan, doors will open at 6:15 p.m.