AAPS: Superintendent Jeanice Swift gives details on 2021 commencement ceremonies

From Superintendent Jeanice Swift:

Thank you for your partnership and support this year, as we have come a long way through this COVID global pandemic. We understand this time has been particularly challenging for our students and families in the Class of 2021.

We remain focused on a strong wrap-up to the 2020-21 school year: we are engaged in welcoming students and families who choose back to in-school hybrid learning this spring, continuing to serve our students whose preference is to remain fully virtual through the close of the school year, and importantly, we are all thrilled to celebrate and honor the Class of 2021.

The Class of 2021 joins a long tradition of AAPS graduates, and in hearing from our students and parents during this year, we understand that we all place a high value on the experience of celebrating high school commencement with an in-person ceremony that recognizes the accomplishments of our graduates. During this pandemic, we continue to prioritize the health and safety of our students, staff and community. As we begin the month of May, restrictions on public gatherings remain in place in our state and county, limiting our ability to hold traditional, large indoor graduation ceremonies. As well, our partners at Eastern Michigan University and the University of Michigan also have limited ability to share facilities for graduation ceremonies due to these same restrictions.

We recognize the need for our graduates and families to plan for these milestone graduation events, and we are moving forward today to confirm plans for graduation ceremonies. We are delighted that the continued decrease in the level of COVID cases, alongside the increasing vaccination rates in our community,  gives us the ability to plan for an in-person commencement ceremony.

Class of 2021 Commencement Ceremonies

For the graduating Class of 2021, we will hold outdoor graduation ceremonies located at our comprehensive high school campuses. We will do so while adhering to the current restrictions on public gatherings. For Huron, Pioneer and Skyline, this will necessitate the convening of two ceremonies with half the class in each of the ceremonies to allow for family members to attend and remain in compliance with the state’s spectator limits.

The schedule for AAPS graduation ceremonies is as follows:

  • Tuesday, June 1, 2021: Pathways @ Huron High School, 6:30 PM
  • Wednesday, June 2, 2021: Huron @ Huron HIgh School, 5:00 PM & 7:30 PM
  • Thursday, June 3, 2021: Pioneer @ Pioneer High School, 5:00 PM & 7:30 PM
  • Friday, June 4, 2021: Community @ Pioneer High School, 6:30 PM
  • Monday, June 7, 2021: Skyline @ Skyline High School, 5:00 PM & 7:30 PM


These ceremonies, held at the schools’ stadiums, will have many features of a traditional AAPS graduation ceremony. This includes socially-distanced processionals and recessionals, student speeches, and addresses by school leaders. Most importantly, every graduate will be introduced as they walk across the stage to receive their diploma. Students will be seated in chairs on the field in front of a stage. Spectators will be seated in the home and visitor bleacher sections. Each school plans to add many of its unique traditions to the ceremony and will communicate to graduates and families the specific details for their ceremonies, including spectator tickets.


We expect that the families of graduates at Huron, Pioneer and Skyline will receive approximately four tickets to attend the ceremony. The capacity of AAPS stadium seating, as well as the state guidelines on spectator limits, will determine exactly how many tickets can be issued for each graduate. Seating will allow for social distancing between families. For Community and Pathways, the schools will communicate appropriate spectator limits based on stadium capacity and state guidelines.

All ceremonies will be broadcast live, and they will be replayed on CTN at later dates.

Inclement Weather

As is true for the planning of any outdoor event, a contingency plan must be in place in case of inclement weather. These ceremonies will be “rain or shine” events. However, if severe weather is expected, we will have an alternate plan that will occur on the same day. These plans will most likely involve a modified ceremony, featuring a brief processional indoors for students to have their names read as they receive their diplomas, with their parents present for the conferring of the diploma.

School principals will share more detailed information as we move through May so that all graduates and families can prepare for this very special day.

As has been true throughout this COVID time, the health and safety of our students, staff and families remain our top priority. I appreciate the patience and partnership of our students and parents and the ongoing, diligent work of our high school teams and leaders who will continue to plan every detail of commencement ceremonies with a laser focus on making this day special for our graduates and their families.

As we emerge from this COVID pandemic time that has impacted our students and staff, families and community in so many challenging ways, we are excited to come together in joy and celebration to honor our impressive graduates of the AAPS Class of 2021.

Congratulations to our seniors on their progress through this challenging COVID time; they are inspiring.