TOMBSTONE — In the wake of COVID-19, most high schools across the state have celebrated the Class of 2020 with drive-thru commencement programs, virtual ceremonies, and other alternative formats.

Tombstone High School is one of the exceptions.

At 7 p.m. Thursday, Tombstone’s 106 graduating seniors will gather at the football field for a “traditional” or “in-person” ceremony, while following specific guidelines handed down by state officials.

“We wanted to hold as traditional a graduation ceremony as possible,” said Tombstone Unified School District Superintendent Robert Devere. “The graduates and everyone in attendance will be required to wear facemasks and adhere to a number of guidelines.”

Graduates are limited to six guests, which will be named on a list at the high school gate. The graduation ceremony is voluntary, so parents will be asked to sign a waiver allowing the graduate to participate. The waivers also contain an acknowledgement that the graduate and attending family members have had no COVID-19 related symptoms for the week preceding graduation.

As an additional precaution, temperatures of graduates and school staff will be taken prior to the ceremony. Graduates and guests will be seated six feet apart. There will be no handshakes, high-fives or hugs, and diplomas will have to be mailed to the graduates either before or after the ceremony.

With exception of a couple of people expressing concerns, Devere said the overall response to the school’s graduation plans have been positive.

“The majority of people are very excited about the fact we’re holding a traditional-style graduation ceremony. This whole COVID situation has made everything difficult for graduates and every aspect of our society,” he said. “We are very proud of all our graduates and pleased that we are going to be able to honor them in a traditional format. As part of that, we are going to be following the state’s recommended precautions to mitigate potential spread of the virus.”

Facemasks are required, and all attendees need to provide their own. In addition, everyone is advised to bring bottled water to the event, as the school’s water fountains have been turned off because of COVID.

Wearing the traditional Tombstone Yellow Jacket black and gold, graduates will enter the stadium to the familiar sounds of “Pomp and Circumstance.”

The school’s JROTC Yellowjacket Battalion will present the colors while adhering to a special formation to comply with the six-foot distancing format.

“I’m glad our school board and administration decided to stay with a traditional graduation,” said THS Principal David Thursby. “I believe we’re going to have a wonderful evening for our graduates. We’ve been meeting for about six weeks now as we’ve developed a plan, and our graduates and parents are pleased that we’re following through with a traditional ceremony.”

TUSD eighth-grade promotionsTombstone Unified School District is holding a combined eighth-grade promotion for Huachuca City and Walter J. Meyer schools at 6 p.m. Wednesday at the high school football field.

Gates open at 4:30 p.m. and students are asked to arrive at high school by 5 p.m.

The above state guidelines that are being followed at the high school commencement program apply to the eighth-grade promotion ceremony as well.

“All students and everyone in attendance will need to wear facemasks,” said Huachuca City Principal Kevin Beaman. “As with the high school, we will be following the six-foot social distancing guidelines.”

Huachuca City School is promoting 46 students, while Walter J. Meyer is promoting 19. While both schools recognize a valedictorian and salutatorian, there will be valedictorian addresses only from each school.

Huachuca City School’s Valedictorian is Javier Lopez and the Salutatorian is Isaiah Noonan, while the Walter J. Meyer Valedictorian is Liam Cormany and Salutatorian is Maleigha Weihrauch.

“This is a year none of us will ever forget,” Beaman said. “The perseverance of these eighth-graders is outstanding and they deserve all the recognition they’re receiving through Wednesday’s promotion ceremony.”