East Mississippi Community College will host a virtual commencement ceremony May 20, while the Golden Triangle Early College High School will conduct a drive-through graduation ceremony at the Communiversity on May 16. This file photo was taken last year during EMCC’s graduation ceremony on the Golden Triangle campus.

May 11, 2020

East Mississippi Community College will conduct a virtual commencement ceremony for the Class of 2020, while the Golden Triangle Early College High School will host a drive-through graduation ceremony for its seniors.

A link to EMCC’s virtual graduation will be posted to the college’s Facebook page Wednesday, May 20, at 7 p.m. GTECHS will live-stream its commencement ceremony on the high school’s Facebook page beginning at 2 p.m. on Saturday, May 16.

Like many other colleges, universities and high schools across the state, EMCC and GTECHS are hosting special graduation events this year in response to the novel coronavirus.

“In order to comply with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Gov. Tate Reeves’ directions, we opted to find a way to recognize and honor the hard work of our students, while remaining proactive regarding the safety of students, families, faculty and staff,” Golden Triangle Dean of Students/Dean of Enrollment Management Dr. Melanie Sanders said. “Our students have worked diligently to reach this milestone and we want to celebrate their achievements.”

About 700 graduates from academic and career technical programs at EMCC locations in Scooba, the Golden Triangle, the Communiversity, Lion Hills, West Point and Macon will be honored during EMCC’s commencement ceremony.

The virtual graduation will resemble a typical graduation in many respects. Vice President of the Golden Triangle Campus Dr. Paul Miller will lead out the commencement exercise with an invocation, followed by EMCC President Dr. Scott Alsobrooks’ welcome and address to the students.

Alsobrooks and Interim Vice President of Instruction Dr. James Rush will confer and award the degrees. The graduates names will be read with assistance from other staff and those students who provided photos will have their pictures displayed as their names are read.

Miller will provide the charge to the graduates and Executive Director of College Advancement and Athletics Marcus Wood will give the closing remarks.

EMCC will also host a virtual awards day via the college’s Facebook page Tuesday, May 19, at 7 p.m., to honor those students who achieved academic distinction in their areas of study.

GTECHS, which is located on EMCC’s Golden Triangle campus, will conduct commencement exercises for the school’s 44 graduating seniors at EMCC’s Communiversity.Golden Triangle Early College High School students celebrate in this file photo from last year’s graduation ceremony. GTECHS will host a May 16 drive-through graduation this year at the Communiversity, while East Mississippi Community College will conduct a virtual graduation May 20.

Graduates will be allowed to bring one vehicle to the graduation ceremony and can be accompanied by as many family and friends as they can fit into the automobile. The students will drive, or ride up to, a table set up outside the Communiversity, get out and pick up their diplomas.  

The students’ pictures will be displayed on EMCC’s electronic billboard at the Communiversity as they receive their diplomas and the event will be broadcast on EMCC’s radio station, WGTC, 92.7 FM.

After the students get their diplomas, they will park to watch the rest of the ceremony.

“We are really excited that we are able to come up with some type of commencement ceremony for our students on the day they were scheduled to graduate,” GTECHS Principal Jill Savely said. “All of our faculty and staff will be there in our graduation regalia to celebrate with our students as much as we can while still maintaining social distancing guidelines.”

Students enrolled at GTECHS also take courses at EMCC. Twenty-eight of the 44 GTECHS graduates are on track to receive a one-year technical certificate or associate’s degree from EMCC during the college’s May 20 commencement exercise.

GTECHS senior Jessica Davis of Columbus is among those students who will graduate from both the high school and EMCC.

“I am excited about the graduations because some schools aren’t doing anything,” said Davis, who plans on studying Wildlife, Fisheries and Aquaculture at Mississippi State University. “I am really grateful they took time to figure out something for our graduation ceremonies.”