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In-person Commencement set for July 25 cancelled



This letter from Penn Principal Sean Galiher was emailed to senior students and families on Monday, June 8. Hard copies of the letter will also be mailed to homes.



Dear Parents or Guardians:                                                                                                      


Congratulations for helping your senior graduate from Penn High School during these challenging times. We share your pride in your senior’s achievement.  While the end of this school year has been anything but traditional, we hope you have enjoyed the special activities we organized for seniors including the delivery of senior signs and our Virtual Commencement held on May 29th (Click to watch it).  In addition, I am happy to announce we are planning an in-person ceremony for Saturday, July 25 outside at Penn High School on TCU Freed Field.


The purpose of this letter is two-fold: To provide you with information about our ceremony in July and to solicit your assistance in helping make the graduation activities reflect the dignity, solemnity and importance of your senior’s achievement.  This year’s graduation will definitely look different as we will need to insure a safe environment for those who choose to participate.  All candidates for graduation and guests will be required to follow state and local health protocols, including social distancing guidelines and safety and security measures.  Thank you in advance for your cooperation and partnership with Penn High School.




Penn High School’s commencement will be held on Saturday, July 25 at 10:00 a.m.  Should rain or  inclement weather delay our plans, the ceremony will be moved to Sunday, July 26th at 10:00 a.m.  Monday, July 27th at 7:00 p.m. will be used as our third inclement weather option.


Seniors participating should arrive at Penn by 7:30 a.m. on July 25th.  Seniors arriving after 8:00 a.m. will not be in alphabetical order and may be required to be seated at the end of the line. Seniors are required to wear their caps and gowns and to have appropriate attire under their caps and gowns. Also, no decorations on the caps and gowns will be allowed. Seniors are also encouraged to eat a healthy breakfast before arriving at Penn. There is typically a rehearsal for Commencement, where graduates are instructed on how exactly everything will happen at the ceremony. There will be NO rehearsal this year; seniors will be expected to arrive early so they can be staged and prepped.  A video will be shared with graduates as we get closer to the event to provide additional direction.  We are also making plans to stream the ceremony live for those who cannot attend.  Additional details will be shared later this summer on how to access the live stream.  


Seniors are asked to refrain from bringing valuables to commencement.  Please bring only those necessary items that you will need at graduation. Cell phones, gifts, hangers, food or drinks will not be allowed.  Sunglasses are allowed and each graduate will be provided with a bottle of water by their chair. Girls may bring a small handbag/purse. 


Parents and guests are to enter through the Larry Beehler ticket entrance on the north end of the stadium.  Doors open at 9:00 a.m.  The facility is handicap accessible.  Attendance will be limited to two (2) family members per graduate.  The names of each family member must be included on the sign up form which is included later in this communication.




Please remember that graduation participation is a privilege, not a required activity.  New this year, students must complete a Google form and indicate if the graduate will be participating on July 25th.  We will only be reserving a chair for every student who completes the form indicating they will be attending the event.  Please access the following link or scan the QR code to access the form. 

Ticket QR code

Students must use their @phm email account to access the form. This form must be completed by June 20th.




Admission to graduation is free-of-charge, but not open to the public. Seniors will be allowed to have two (2) guests in attendance.  These guests must be on the list from the Google Form completed by each family. This is a non-negotiable number, due to the maximum occupancy in the stadium. We understand this is not an ideal situation, but we need to do our best to follow health safety guidelines. Every person who attends as a guest counts, including babies and children. We prefer young children are not part of your group of guests, but also understand there are sometimes circumstances beyond your control. Please remember, every single person counts. We will not be using paper tickets. Every graduate must use the online form to enter the names of his/her two (2) guests; and students must use their student @phm email account to access the form. Students will be able to enter/alter the names of their guests up until July 23rd. We will also have staff available at the door to enter names for people who do not have internet access prior to that time.




Parents should make prior arrangements as to where to meet their senior after the graduation ceremonies have ended. Please do not interrupt the procession as the graduates exit the stadium.  The graduates will be released to meet with family and friends after re-entering the school.  We ask all spectators to honor the accomplishments of all of our seniors by refraining from any behavior that is a distraction from the ceremony. If an audience member’s behavior detracts from the formal environment that has been established, he/she may be asked by security to leave the ceremony.




If you ordered and have not picked up your cap and gown, please come to Door A to pick your items up between 7:30 a.m. - 3:00 p.m, Monday - Friday.  




Students will be able to pick up their diplomas beginning Monday, June 15, from 8:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. Pick up will be outside by Door A.  




HR Imaging Partners will be positioned to take individual pictures of seniors with their diplomas.  Every student will be photographed and all photographs will be available for purchase on a protected website.  The website is; select the orange tab, which is “Order prints from special events.”  No one except school personnel will be allowed on the field to take pictures. We know you want to take photos of your graduate. With social distancing guidelines in effect, there is no way we can allow guests to move around during the ceremony to take photos. Guests will not be allowed to move around from their seats. Any pictures taken will need to be taken from your seats. After the ceremony, please relocate off campus to take photos.




Graduating seniors should be dropped off at Penn at the arrival time.  Parents and guests should park in the student lots on the north side of the high school.  




Seating is first come, first served.  Parents will be designated a location on the home or visitor side of the stadium.  If you have questions, staff will be available to help you determine which side you need to go for seating.  Seat clusters of two (2) will be labeled throughout the bleachers with each cluster being six feet apart and clearly marked.  All ticket holders for each graduate must sit together and cannot spread out to more than one marked cluster of two seats.  Social distancing will be enforced.  Please refrain from visiting with other families in the bleachers.  Handicap seating will be available during the ceremony.  At this time, we also ask that family members wear a mask to and from your seats.  Parents and patrons do not need to wear a mask once seated.  We will update this guidance as we get closer to July 25th to determine if changes need to be made based on current CDC and St. Joseph Health Department guidelines. 




Concessions with bottle water will be available and operated by the PHS Booster Club.




All attendees must use social distancing when arriving and leaving the stadium.  Families are expected not to congregate outside or inside the stadium at any given time.  Hand sanitizer stations will be available at all entrances and along the bottom of the stands on both sides of the stadium. 


Participating students and family members are encouraged to monitor their health and should not attend if they have any symptoms associated with COVID-19.


Your assistance and cooperation in conforming to the instructions outlined in this letter are needed and appreciated. If you should have any questions about any of the activities outlined above, please do not hesitate to call. 


Again, congratulations to you and your senior!  We wish the newest members of the Penn High School Alumni the very best!  They have, indeed, been very special!



Sean Galiher, Principal of Penn High School