Minneapolis, St. Paul schools plan for in-person graduation ceremonies

Mara Klecker, Star Tribune
·2 min read

The Minneapolis Class of 2021 likely won't get to walk across the stage to receive their high school diplomas, but district leaders are planning in-person graduation ceremonies.

To accommodate social distancing and allow for contract tracing during the COVID-19 pandemic, the events — held between June 7 and June 10 — will be limited to two guests per graduating student. And rather than having students come on stage for handshakes and recognition, the graduates will stand up as their name is read aloud.

Minneapolis Superintendent Ed Graff said the plan is to create a "paperless kind of graduation recognition." Tickets for the ceremonies, which will be held at the Minneapolis Convention Center, the 3M Arena at Mariucci and the Cowles Center, will be available online.

To adhere to state restrictions on large gatherings last spring, Minneapolis and St. Paul schools honored 2020 graduates with virtual ceremonies. By then, those seniors had already had to watch as prom, spring sports, senior send-offs and awards banquets were canceled.

St. Paul schools are also planning for in-person ceremonies this year, though they will be shorter and also have limited capacity, the district said.

High schoolers in both city districts have only recently returned to school buildings after more than a year of distance learning during the pandemic. Some students have opted to continue in distance learning.

Elsewhere, leaders in many suburban districts are still working out the details of their graduation ceremonies. That includes the state's largest district, Anoka-Hennepin, where four of five high schools are planning to hold their ceremonies at 3M Arena at Mariucci at the University of Minnesota. Anoka High School, meanwhile, is planning an outdoor ceremony at Goodrich Field in downtown Anoka. Anoka-Hennepin spokesman Jim Skelly said the district hopes to finalize its plans soon.

The Burnsville school district will follow tradition and hold an outdoor ceremony at Burnsville High School's Pates Stadium. But unlike in past years, the ceremony won't be moved inside for rain; if there's bad weather, the district will move graduation to another date, when it can be held outside.

Staff writers Anthony Lonetree and Erin Golden contributed to this report.

Mara Klecker • 612-673-4440