RENSSELAER — Preparations for Rensselaer Central’s Class of 2020 graduation ceremony July 11 have begun.

RCSC sent a detailed graduation and practice schedule to parents of the 2020 students this week.

Each student also received tickets for four guests they would like to see attend the ceremony. No more than four tickets will be available as RCSC officials look to limit the number of people sitting in the bleachers on the home side of the high school football field.

Practice for seniors will be July 10 at the football field, with graduation set for July 11. Graduation will be outdoors for the first time in recent memory due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Our goal in all of this,” said RCSC superintendent Curtis Craig, “is keeping safe and making it as normal as possible.”

Students must attend the July 10 practice to participate in graduation. Social distancing will be required and face masks are recommended.

The 2020 valedictorian and class president — in this case Sarah Mahnesmith — and salutatorian Michaelena Barko will practice their speeches from 8-8:30 a.m. July 10. Practice for all graduating seniors will begin at 8:30 a.m., with junior attendants and underclass band members to arrive at 9 a.m.

Commencement practice with the band and seniors will be at 9 a.m. After practice, time will be allotted for additional speech practice if needed.

Students will return to the the school July 11, first meeting with school officials in the gymnasium at 6 p.m. Officials will provide details that need to be completed before the ceremony begins, so students are asked to be on time.

Students should dress in something cool and comfortable to be worn under their gowns. Cap, gown, tassel and any special awards they will wear (cords, National Honor Society, etc.) must be brought to the ceremony.

Here is a peek at the July 11 schedule:

  • 5:45 p.m. — Pictures taken of students who finished among the top 10% in the class.
  • 6 p.m. — All other seniors participating will arrive at the gym (no family members allowed).
  • 6:55 p.m. — Students will walk to the Harrison Complex.
  • 7 p.m. — Graduation.

The ceremony will be live streamed on Facebook for anyone who is interested.

“This option has been available due to the limited number of guests that can be in attendance at the ceremony,” RCSC officials said.

King Shots will be on hand to take pictures of students receiving their diplomas.

Once the ceremony is completed, students are asked to leave the school grounds for any post-graduation get-togethers.

“We know this is a special time for all of you,” RCSC officials said, “and you want to spend time together with your classmates. Unfortunately, we ask that you do not stay on the school grounds after the ceremony. Please meet in other areas with family and friends for pictures and other social activities. This is for the safety of all our guests, graduates and staff.”