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An alternative graduation is planned next week by parents of Lemon Bay High School students. Charlotte County Schools canceled all in-person graduation ceremonies due to the growing concern over COVID-19.

PHOTO PROVIDED

ENGLEWOOD — After Charlotte County Schools canceled in-person graduation ceremonies, two Lemon Bay High School moms began planning their own celebration for Englewood seniors.

Carla Bounds and Victoria Van Dine began spreading the word and looking for help planning an alternative ceremony for next week, just hours after learning their children’s ceremony wouldn’t be happening on July 17.

They met with a few parents. Each had tasks to complete in time for meeting, set for 7 p.m. tonight at the pavilion in Ann & Chuck Dever Regional Park, 6791 San Casa Drive, Englewood.

“We know we don’t have much time to plan this, but our seniors missed out on so much,” Bounds said. “They’ve worked hard 13 years and they deserve their 13 seconds of fame. They should be able to walk across the stage and have everyone cheer for them.”

Bounds doesn’t mind spending hours planning so her son, Robbie, 18, and his friends can be recognized in an hour-and-a-half ceremony. Robbie is attending Keiser University in West Palm Beach in mid-August for business administration. He earned a basketball scholarship to help pay for college.

Van Dine’s son, Preston, 18, will study business at Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers. His goal is to become a pilot for Fed-Ex or UPS.

“I feel like the seniors already lost so much from prom to their all spring sports time, seeing their friends in school and their senior class trip to Orlando for Grad Bash,” Van Dine said. “They should get a little something and walk across the stage and have their name read.”

At the meeting, they will discuss locations which include the youth football fields at San Casa Park, the Charlotte County Speedway or a possibly an in-door site at Ringling College in Sarasota.

Now the moms need a small team of volunteers to help.

“Depending on the venue we will need chairs, a sound system and stage,” Bounds said. “The football field and speedway have their own sound systems. We would ask parents to bring their own chairs, but we would want the graduates all seated in the same type of chair. We want them to decorate their caps and wear their gowns.”

Updates will be posted on the new Facebook page, Lemon Bay High School Parents of Graduates 2020.

“We will iron out details at the Thursday meeting,” Bounds said. “We called the school to ask for help with the names, but learned everyone is off for the next two weeks. So we will be doing this as best as we can in a short time.”

The Charlotte County school district announced the cancellation of the graduations due to the “continued rise in COVID-19 cases in the community and the health risk associated with large events.” Each high school’s Virtual Graduation will be available online at 7 p.m. on the day their in-person graduation ceremony would have been held. For LBHS it was on July 17.

“We believe we can do it in person as long as we are all socially distanced,” Bounds said.

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