Columbia County schools will hold graduation, prom this summer

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Columbia County has finalized dates for high school graduation and prom that were wiped out by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Columbia County School District announced that prom and graduation will be held for Columbia and Fort White high schools.

Fort White will hold prom July 25 and graduation on July 31. Columbia, located in Lake City, will have prom on July 30 and graduation on Aug. 1. For seniors who saw the latter portion of their final years in school affected by one coronavirus cancellation after another, it’s a bit of good news.

“We’re planning on having [prom] in our gymnasium,” said Columbia High principal Thomas Hosford. “My thought process with that is that they had their last couple of months of high school snatched away from them. It’ll probably mean more having it here than where we traditionally have it at, a banquet hall or a country club.”

Graduation will be held on the football field.

Hosford said that the county is committed to making both prom and graduation happen.

The county is making additional plans, too. It plans to have cap and gown photo opportunities for seniors and Superintendent Lex Carswell so they’ll have a graduation picture like they’d typically have. For students who are enlisting in the military, Hosford said that they will have a separate graduation ceremony in late May before they leave.

“Our graduation here at Columbia High School is arguably the largest gathering in one night in our whole county, other than maybe the fair, but that’s a whole week,” Hosford said. “If something were to happen and that date doesn’t work due to COVID-19, we’ll back it up and do it again. It’s going to happen.”

Several other area school districts have said that they plan on holding graduations.

Nassau County is eyeing late June or mid-July. Clay and Duval counties have are postponing graduation until July. Putnam County will hold its graduation in August. St. Johns County announced that it was forgoing traditional graduation and holding a virtual graduation instead.

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