High school maps outdoor graduation ceremony

Pioneer School District staff are working toward having an in-person, outdoors graduation ceremony for the Class of 2021. 

Commencement is planned for Saturday, June 26, at 1:00 p.m., at Pioneer Memorial Stadium. In 2020, COVID-19 restrictions resulted in a drive-through ceremony for graduates and their families. 

Principal Mark Schultz said that even though restrictions have eased, Pioneer continues to follow guidelines and plan events according to mandates issued by the New York State Department of Health and Cattaraugus County.

"It will require cooperation and understanding to host this event," he said. "Despite recent changes announced by the Centers for Disease Control, there have been no updates issued to schools."

Graduation will be held rain or shine on June 26. Each graduate will be allowed to invite up to four guests. Every guest in attendance will be required to show proof of vaccination OR receive a negative COVID test within six hours of the start of commencement.

Cattaraugus County has agreed to provide a free, drive-through COVID test in the bus lane at the high school for those who are not fully vaccinated.  The testing is scheduled from 8:00 a.m. to noon, and will require registration. Details will be sent in a letter to families in the coming weeks. 

Families will be seated on the turf field facing the graduates, and students will be called one row at a time to be announced and receive their diplomas.  There will be an area designated for photos.

Social distancing and masking will be required. Further information on graduation and other year-end events will be shared in mailings, on social media and on the Pioneer website.

For those who cannot attend Commencement, Pioneer is planning to stream the event on the PioneerTV YouTube channel.