New Bremen sets stage for virtual graduations

Seth Kinker
Staff Writer

This article appears in the May 14 edition of The Community Post

On May 10, New Bremen Schools held a virtual graduation for the class of 2020. 

This, of course, coincides with the coronavirus and the effect its had on the country. 

But New Bremen was in a unique situation locally by being one of the first schools to have their school year end due to planned construction of the new addition to the high school. 

This meant that they were in the driver’s seat as far as choosing how to recognize and honor a senior class without many of the normal avenues to do so and no other local districts to look to see how they would honor their seniors. 

“These poor seniors,” said New Bremen Principal Marcus Everman. “That last nine weeks is supposed to be their best nine weeks of their 13 years of school. I was just trying to look for ways to make it special and memorable.” 

New Bremen has honored their senior class in many of the ways they would normally would with a social distancing twist. Whether that be a video of teachers sending messages to the senior class, the class of 2020 clap out video or a virtual graduation ceremony. 

New Bremen is one of the local communities that has held parades to honor its teachers, where they would drive around the community and be celebrated for all that they do. 

When prom was cancelled this year, Everman told The Community Post he had a parent reach out and suggest a similar parade for the students where they drove around in their cars and prom attire.

Everman took those two ideas and combined them which led to a senior parade through downtown New Bremen on Mar. 6, with seniors either driving their own cars or sitting in the back while waving to community members who sat along the parade route. 

“It’s good to see them be honored,” said Michelle Voress, a New Bremen resident who was along the parade route on May. 6 with her husband, Neal, and two kids. 

The Voress’ have a niece who’s a senior at New Bremen this year along with several family friends that are seniors and babysit for the family. 

“They did miss a huge portion of their senior year and memories you normally  get to make that they didn’t get to,” added Voress. “It’s nice that they have new and different memories to put with that. One of our family friends is a pitcher for the baseball team and he didn’t get to pitch his senior year, that was sad to hear.”

After reaching out to the senior class to gauge interest and receiving an overwhelmingly positive response, Everman got in contact with the local police and fire departments. 

“Once I knew we had the buy in from seniors showing up, I contacted Police Chief (Mike) Skinner,” said Everman. “And he said, ‘let me organize it, I'll get a hold of (Fire Chief) Dan Vorhees,’ A thank you and big kudos to those two on what they did to help us out.”

“I was truly amazed how many community members came out and supported our seniors,” added Everman in an over the phone interview. “It was great.”

Everman told The Community Post that New Bremen saw the writing on the wall of school closings coming and credited students and staff for making the best out of an unfortunate situation. 

Even in these uncharted times, Everman recalled Governor Mike DeWine’s initial announcement that school would be shut down for three weeks to help slow the spread of the virus. That announcement came at about 2:30 in the afternoon and Everman was able to gather the staff for a quick meeting before the school day ended. 

“There was no hesitation in the staff, in their eyes and voices,” said Everman. “We're going to take this head on and attack it. I’m very blessed to have a great staff and students, it’s made my position a lot easier. I can’t say enough about the staff, I could go on and on about what they’ve done and what they mean to me. It’s been a blessing to work with them."

Near the end of April, New Bremen had seniors come in to visually record a graduation ceremony, receiving their diploma in their cap and gown. 

Everman credited Shannon Heckman and Heather Powers for spearheading that endeavor, ensuring photographs of each graduate as well as all the normal makings of a graduation; a valedictorian speech, a class president speech and the senior slide show that is normally shown

That video was released on May 10 as the district holds out hope that Jun. 7 might work as a possible date to hold an in-person graduation ceremony. 

“We’re still holding on to that Jun. 7 date,” said Everman on May 8. “If we can hold something we will. I’m crossing my fingers. DeWine came out yesterday and said they were opening up restaurants and things like that. I’m still hopeful Jun. 7 might work out.”