Salem schools plan traditional in-person graduation, prom

SALEM — This year’s seniors can expect a traditional in-person prom and a face-to-face graduation that’s as close to normal as possible.

At least that’s the plan announced by Superintendent Sean Kirkland Monday night during the school board meeting, following guidelines and barring any prohibitions by the state.

“We feel comfortable we can put on a nice graduation,” he said.

The prom is scheduled for May 7 at Mr. Anthony’s on South Avenue in Boardman, with the in-person graduation set for June 6.

“We’re going to make it as close to traditional as possible,” he said.

Last year’s graduation for the class of 2020 was done virtually, with graduates filmed at set intervals getting their diplomas accompanied by their parents or guardians. Even the speeches were filmed and all spliced together for an on-line graduation ceremony that family members watched online.

Last year’s class had no prom, no spring sports, no plays, no concerts, none of the traditional end-of-year events.

The board approved the calendar for the 2021-2022 school year, returning to an August start for classes. The first day of school for students will be Aug. 25, 2021. The last day will be June 2, 2022.

Kirkland said a staff survey was done with sample schedules and the overwhelming majority wanted to return to the earlier start. The reason for the earlier start is to get as many instruction days in as possible before state testing. The current school year started after Labor Day to buy the district some time in preparing the school and staff for dealing with COVID-19.

During his report to the board, Kirkland also talked about the upcoming debut of the ESports program. The Quakers are now members of the ESports Ohio League and will be competing in tournaments for two different video games, one known as Rocket League and one known as SMITE. The board approved Ryan Murgatroyd for the ESports Club coach position.

Kirkland said 87 students in grades 7-12 tried out for the two gaming teams, Rocket League and SMITE. Their first tournament is March 8. He also said for those who didn’t make it into competition, there will be game nights and school tournaments for fun.

He announced that March 9 will be a remote day for the high school, with 175 taking the ACT that day, besides working on scheduling and career planning.

He praised the spelling bee winners who will represent the school in the online county bee March 3. He also praised the successes of the sports seasons for basketball and wrestling, saying this may be the first time in school history that both the boys and girls varsity basketball teams may be getting a share of league crowns at the same time. The freshman boys team went 13-1 and won the Eastern Buckeye Conference tournament. The girls reserve team also lost just one game. He also talked about the success of the wrestling teams, senior Caiden Hart, the all- time wins leader for the Quakers with a 129-14 record. The Quakers also had Karlie Stith place fourth in the girls wrestling state tournament. The junior high boys wrestling team has a 28-2 record.

In open enrollment business, applications must be returned to the superintendent’s office no later than May 1. The board approved open enrollment for the 2021-2022 school year only in areas where enrollment permits.

The board also approved the dual credit memorandum of understanding with Eastern Gateway Community College for the next school year, approved an agreement for placement of an Ashland University School Nurse Licensure student for field-based experiences in the school district and accepted the tax rates for the 2021/2022 fiscal year.

In personnel matters, the board approved the hiring of Mike Lee Showalter for a three-hour elementary bus route for the second semester, retroactive to Feb. 1, due to COVID-19. The board also hired John Fitzgerald as an eight-hour custodian at the high school, approved the resignations of Kevin Jamison as a bus driver effective March 3 and Melissa Tonkinson as an eight-hour custodian at the high school effective Feb. 19, and approved leave for Becky Smith.

The board had approved a memorandum of understanding between the board and the Salem Education Association regarding adding the ESports Club to the supplementary salary schedule.

The board also approved Madison Pidgeon and Kyle Gainor as volunteer assistant coaches for softball and Keith Parker as head coach of the boys tennis team.

The next board meeting will be 7 p.m. March 15 in the high school library.



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