RUTLEDGE – Graduation for seniors at Grainger and Washburn High Schools was originally scheduled for this Thursday and Friday, but due to the school year being cut short due to the coronavirus pandemic, those plans had to be changed. 

The ceremonies are now going to be held in June.

Grainger County Director of Schools Dr. James Atkins has decided the graduates will be honored this week anyway. A parade will be held in Rutledge for Grainger High seniors Thursday, May 14 and in Washburn Friday, May 15. Each parade will begin at 7 p.m., which was the scheduled hour for commencement.

“We want these parades to be happy events enjoyed by the graduates, their families, friends and the community. I want to thank out county mayor, Mr. Mike Byrd and our sheriff, Mr. James Harville, for their cooperation and assistance in these parades,” Atkins said. “We strongly encourage students to practice social distancing.”

The Grainger High parade will begin in the parking lot of the school. It will proceed through Rutledge with a police escort and end at the parking lot of Rutledge Middle School. Graduates will have magnetic signs with their photograph and school logo to place on the side of their vehicles. A public address system will be set up on the lawn of the courthouse to announce each senior as they pass by.

The Washburn parade will begin at B & C Paving and end at the high school parking lot. Graduates will also be announced at a point along the parade route.

Atkins said if students want a family member or friend to drive the vehicle so they can wave to the crowd, they can do that. Students will be free to leave at the end of each parade. He said he will not ride in the parade because he wants the focus to be on the students. He said he will be at the same locations as the public address systems.

Mayor Byrd congratulated the class of 2020 in a Facebook post and invited the public to join in the event.

“Please celebrate their achievement by lining the streets of Rutledge and Washburn for a senior motorcade parade. Enjoy the celebration and stay safe,” Byrd said.

Graduation for Grainger High will be held Thursday, June 11 and for Washburn Friday, June 12. Both commencements will be held outdoors at Grainger High School. In case of bad weather, the makeup date will be Saturday, June 13.

Atkins said plans are being formulated and he still hopes to have traditional ceremonies.