Like many schools, Imagine North Port went back to the drawing board to ensure seniors got to walk across the stage in cap and gown.

The graduation was initially set for May, and postponed to Thursday, to be held at the Charlotte County Convention Center.

However, as guidelines from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) state, gatherings must not be larger than 50 people.

This year’s graduating class has over 70 graduating seniors.

Holding the ceremony at the convention center wouldn’t be possible.

“It was important to them to do everything we could to make it happen,” said principal John Halcomb. “It means a lot to me, because I know what it means to them,” he said of the students and their families.

“We’re thrilled we can provide this opportunity for them,” he said.

Staff and students went through a rehearsal Thursday morning, for the actual ceremony that would take place that evening.

The ceremony, which was to take place at Sonshine Baptist Church in Port Charlotte, would be a “drive in” graduation ceremony, he explained.

Parents and guests would park their cars 10 feet apart, and would be asked to remain in or near their cars. The procession of students would begin at their cars, and make their way to their seats, which were spaced six feet apart.

Each student had a custom Imagine North Port mask to wear for the occasion.

“I’m glad they’re actually able to recognize them for their accomplishments,” said Meri Barnes, whose son Logan graduated.

She said this year has been unique and full of fears. She left the decision up to her other two children of whether they wanted to return to school or continue remote learning.

“I want them to make decisions about how they’re going to learn,” Barnes said of her 14- and 15-year-old children.

Maxwell Schroth, the class president of the graduating class, said it was great to see everyone’s faces.

“It’s a closure thing before we go off to college and start our lives,” he said.

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