Jul 17, 2020 10:55 AM

Hays High sets outdoor graduation for July 25

Posted Jul 17, 2020 10:55 AM

Hays Post

Hays High School has set its graduation for 10 a.m. Saturday, July 25, outside of the school.

A stage will be set up facing the student parking lot. There will be a small tent for parents who wish to set closer to the stage and also another small tent set up for guests with special needs who will need to be in the shade.

All others guests are asked to sit in the student parking area. They can bring their own chairs from home or use chairs that have been loaned to the school by the Wild West Festival committee.

Martin Staub, HHS principal, strongly encouraged families to sit together, but to social distance from other families.

The students will be asked to wear masks during the ceremony and their chairs will be spaced for social distancing. Guests are encouraged to wear masks, but they are not required.

The ceremony will be projected onto a large outdoor screen for those sitting in the parking lot. The graduation will also be live streamed on the HHS website.

Parking attendants will be on-hand to direct traffic. Straub said he thought the high school will have plenty of room to seat all of the guests and accommodate parking.

HHS will be graduating about 175 students this year. During past graduations, HHS has hosted as many as 2,000 guests at ceremonies at Gross Memorial Coliseum.

However, Straub said he doubted that many people would attend the July 25 ceremony. He speculated some family members and friends will chose to watch the ceremony via live stream.

In case of inclement weather, the ceremony will be moved indoors to the HHS gym A. If this happens, the school will be forced to restrict the number of guests for each student to no more than four. 

"If we have to, we will set up in gym A if a storm comes through," Straub said. "We have become very flexible in the las five months. We’ll figure it out."

Seniors should have received an email with details of the graduation. Anyone who has questions, can call HHS at 785-623-2600.

Project Graduation will continue as scheduled on the evening of graduation.

The event will be open to students and their parents. Much of the event will be staged outside, weather permitting, Straub said.

"I am confident if we have a nice starry night, we will have that outside," he said. "It is good for safety and will add to the atmosphere to mark historically what these kids went through."

Below is the letter sent to Hays seniors on graduation.

Dear Hays High Class of 2020, Parents and Guardians,

We are about two weeks out from the date of your Class of 2020 Graduation Commencement so it’s time to share many details.

If you have any questions after reading the message below and reviewing the attached overhead maps of our HHS Campus and the commencement location, please allow us to assist by calling Hays High (623-2600) or by

emailing ([email protected]).


  1. Commencement will take place at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, July 25, 2020 on the campus of HHS near the front of the school on the student parking lot side of the building.
  2. We will practice on Friday, July 24 at 9:00 a.m. at HHS.  Meet at the black chairs at the front HHS main entrance. You do NOT need to bring your cap and gown to practice.  Please be on time!
  3. On Saturday before commencement, be at the HHS Commons/Gym A area by 9:15 a.m. Since we did not get to take Class of 2020 picture as planned in the spring, let’s take this last opportunity to get this done.  It will be a nice keepsake for you. Parking may be limited so plan accordingly.
  4. Graduation day dress… we can’t control the weather but plan for it to be hot.  We encourage you to dress cool, yet appropriate, for the nice program that it will be.  Gentlemen, a collared shirt is most appropriate.
  5. Have you tried on your maroon cap and gown? Hang it up to reduce the wrinkles and be careful to use a COOL iron if your choose to iron it. Only National Honor Society stoles and Honor Cords should be worn.  If you decorate your hat, keep it high school appropriate.
  6. If you haven’t already done so, email Tammy Stewart, HHS Registrar ([email protected]), where to send your final academic transcript.
  7. Did you receive a scholarship this year?  Send the organization, family, institution a “thank you” note.  It matters!
  8. Your HHS Diploma will be given to you after the program, it will not be in the maroon cover that you receive when you cross the stage (don’t panic when you see that the cover does not have the diploma).
  9. The Project Graduation “Peace of Mind” (POM) Agreement must be signed and given to Mr. Jerett Pfannenstiel to participate. Project Graduation starts at 9:00 p.m.; let’s have 100% participation! Parents are encouraged to attend and usually do!  Project Graduation is planned for HHS Gyms A and B.  Stay tuned in the event of any required changes… we are studying the possibility of having the event outside.  Again, stay tuned!

Seniors and Parents/Guardians,

  1. The business, “Grad Images” will be taking professional photos at the event.  They will be sure to get an excellent picture of every graduate as he/she receives the maroon diploma cover from our USD 489 BOE President, Michael Walker.  No need to fret; just relax and enjoy the event.  A link to the  picture proof will be emailed to you and can be purchased for a reasonable price. Website: www.gradimages.com.
  2. Hays High’s Channel 13 will live stream, record, and sell the program in DVD format as a Channel 13 fundraiser.  Email Mr. Dan Balman after July 25th if interested ([email protected]).
  3. Celebrating as a family when you/your student is recognized is appropriate and encouraged, but stop shortly after your student’s name is read.  It is so very important that every student – every family - is able to hear their student’s name, uninterrupted, by another family. Let’s show respect to each graduate’s experience.  Thank you in advance for your understanding and cooperation.

Ceremony Site Arrangement:

  1. Attached are two maps of HHS in an attempt to help you understand our plan for the day.
  2. We have hired parking managers who will help fill the HHS front and back parking lots and several grass areas on campus. Please park where they ask you to park.
  3. A professional stage with quality sound has been secured for the event. See map’s yellow box for location.
  4. We have rented a 40’ x 60’ tent for parents & HHS staff (see blue box labeled “Parents”) in an attempt to provide some shade. ONLY parents/guardians/HHS staff will be allowed to sit here. Obviously, parents/guardians aren’t required to sit here; we’re just trying to provide you the second best (graduates get best seats) area to view the event with shade.
  5. We have rented a 20’ x 40’ tent for our HHS Staff and guests with special needs because of age or other physical impairment (see blue box labeled “Special Needs”). Please, ONLY the person with special needs should sit in this area.
  6. All other guests will sit on chairs in the parking lot.  We are borrowing over 1000 chairs from the Wild West Festival folks (THANK YOU WWF!) and they will be available for guests to place in a manner they are most comfortable with regarding social distancing.  We STRONGLY encourage everyone to social distance between families but also understand that your family will want to sit together.  We will not “police” this but beg you to cooperate with one another and keep distance between families.
  7. Graduates and guests are certainly welcome and encouraged to wear masks but are not required to do so.
  8. Please feel free to bring your own folding chair if you worry the WWF chairs will not meet your needs; we are limited in the number that will be available.  We will have the guest seating area cordoned off beginning Friday morning… you’re welcome to check out the setup if you like.
  9. You’re encouraged to bring an umbrella for shade.  Please do not obstruct the view of the stage for others. We’ve been asked whether families can set up “shade tents” in the parking lot for family members.  Yes, that is fine as long as you do not obstruct view of the stage. If you set up a shade tent, do so around the outside parameter of the roped-off guest seating area.

Inclement Weather:

  1. It’s July in Hays, KS, so we like our odds, but we must be prepared for inclement weather on the day of the event.  Here’s the hard part…
  2. If stormy weather requires a change of plans, the alternate site for the ceremony will be in our HHS Gym A.
  3. If Gym A is used, we will have to limit the number of guests, for each graduate, who can attend in person. Each graduate would be given the same number of tickets and a ticket would be required for each person to enter.  We will work with the Ellis County Health Department in determining the number of tickets per graduate if plan B is needed. Whether the ceremony is inside or outside, the ceremony will be livestreamed.
  4. If Gym A is used, the number allowed to attend will be less than the facility capacity to allow for social distancing.  We will STRONGLY encourage all attendees to wear a mask.
  5. I’ve never felt the need to pray for good hot and dry Kansas weather during the last week in July in Hays, KS until this year.

Again, please allow us to answer any other questions you may have by calling HHS (623-2600) or email ([email protected]). We are thankful that we will be able to recognize this resilient awesome group of Hays High Indians!