NNPS summer graduates participate in modified graduation ceremony
Nearly 40 graduates of Newport News Public Schools celebrated their accomplishment on August 11 during a modified graduation ceremony.
After completing the requirements to earn a high school diploma during the summer, the graduates commemorated their hard work and perseverance by walking across the stage and receiving their diplomas in the company of family and friends.
Graduates arrived at an assigned time with their guests and entered the auditorium in intervals to ensure social distancing and gathering restrictions.
The commencement ceremony was recorded and will broadcast and stream on NNPS-TV, nnpstv.com, YouTube, ROKU and Apple TV at a future announced date.
Leveling the field for a “new normal”
When Virginia Governor Ralph Northam closed Virginia public schools in March to contain the spread of COVID-19, Newport News Public Schools (NNPS) quickly shifted to virtual learning. Administrators were determined to ensure that all students had the best experience possible and rapidly deployed plans to provide meals, Chromebooks and Wi-Fi hotspots to households throughout the city.
The “digital divide” between those with ready access to Internet connections and devices and those without is not a new concern, but the need to learn from home revealed the depth of these differences nationwide and the importance of providing all students access to the technology that this new and necessary arrangement required.
While most school employees worked from home from mid-March until June, a large number of bus drivers, child nutrition and information technology employees took up new duties to coordinate the distribution of meals and electronic devices.
Every student in Newport News was eligible to receive a Chromebook, and every resident 18 years old or younger was eligible for meals at pick-up sites throughout the city. Information Technology employees prepared to provide 4000 Wi-Fi hotspots and 28,000 devices.
As schools prepared to open in September, teachers trained online in Canvas, a platform that assists them in delivering instruction electronically.
When it is safe to gather in-person again, NNPS teachers, students, parents and employees will have additional skills and experiences to add to their toolboxes and will be even better prepared for whatever the future brings.