Schools partners with R.J. Corman Group for drive-in Class of 2020 graduation

Published 10:35 am Friday, May 15, 2020

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Amid a worldwide pandemic, and in an unprecedented time of social distancing guidelines, school districts are looking for creative ways to have high school graduation ceremonies worthy of this important milestone.

Jessamine County Schools, a district with 8,200 students, and R.J. Corman Railroad Group have joined forces to provide a “one-of-a-kind” graduation experience for the JCS Class of 2020, while continuing to ensure the safety of graduates and their families.

On May 22, graduates will don their caps and gowns to participate in a parade-style drive-through graduation ceremony on the R.J. Corman grounds.

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Graduates will travel in vehicles with their immediate families through a three-mile scenic route to Lucas Field.

The procession will be led by a R.J. Corman helicopter (weather permitting), and will circle the airstrip, driving under a congratulatory banner held by two Nicholasville fire trucks.

One guest vehicle per graduate will also be allowed on the grounds and these spectators will park alongside the airstrip to cheer on the graduates.

The Providence School will have graduation at 1 p.m., followed by East Jessamine High School at 3 p.m. and West Jessamine High School at 5:30 p.m.

“We were heartbroken for our seniors when we learned that traditional graduation ceremonies would not be possible this May,” JCS Superintendent Matt Moore said. “We have a responsibility to protect the well-being of our students and also to follow the guidance on mass gatherings from Governor Beshear and public health officials.”

Moore said the district asked for feedback from students, who said they preferred a parade-style ceremony over a virtual graduation.

“This is their day, and we were determined to do everything possible, under the current circumstances, to make it special and memorable for our graduates,” Moore said. “R.J. Corman jumped on board immediately to help make it happen, and we’re thrilled to partner with them for this event.”

To ensure safety and social distancing, all graduates and guests will stay in their vehicles during the entire ceremony.  Local radio station JESS-FM 105.9 will broadcast each school’s ceremony, with remarks from Moore, school principals and senior class representatives, and each graduate’s name will be announced.

Students are encouraged to decorate their vehicles for the parade.

R.J. Corman President and Chief Executive Officer Ed Quinn said his company is excited to host these creative graduation ceremonies and to partner with Jessamine Schools.

“Our company is honored to host the celebrations for these students’ accomplishments, which they have completed at an unprecedented time in history,” Quinn said. “Our youth will be the leaders of the future. We want our graduates to know that we are proud of them and stand behind them.”

Moore echoed the public support for the Class of 2020.

“We have an incredibly close-knit community, and we know that Jessamine County is 100 percent behind these graduates,” he said.  “We plan to have another event to give our seniors an opportunity to celebrate with their classmates once the restriction for larger gatherings is lifted.

We’re beyond excited to have this opportunity, and we thank R.J. Corman for helping us to honor our graduates in a unique way.  Our goal is that the parade will provide a truly unforgettable experience and instead of feeling that they missed out, we want our graduates to say, ‘Wow, that was cool!’”