Graduation video is going to be 'something really special'

Alisha Franklin stands with family members, including mother Nikki and father Kerrick, after walking across the auditorium stage to receive her diploma Friday afternoon. She was the last regular member of the Class of 2020 to walk.

      Seven days of filming for Mansfield Senior High’s 2020 modified in-person graduation concluded Friday as the final group of 24 seniors, attired in caps and gowns, took their turns to cross the auditorium stage.

      The procedure had been the same each day since May 7 when the first group of graduates arrived at 15-minute intervals. Winston Greene, district test coordinator, announced each member of the Class of 2020, then the graduate passed in front of principal Marinise Harris, picked up their diploma and smiled broadly before exiting the stage on the opposite side.

      The modified in-person graduation – which permitted each graduate to have four family members or friends in the auditorium – was organized after COVID-19 social distancing requirements prevented the scheduled commencement in Pete Henry Gym.

      “It was a little slow the first day but since then the time has flown by,” said Assistant Principal Robert McQuate. “It’s been a great experience for everyone.”

      Principal Harris agreed.

      “The kids have arrived on schedule, some even early,” she said. “They have been excited for the opportunity to participate in the video.

      ‘It’s a time for our unsung heroes to shine. They may not be athletes, or the class clown or among the most popular, but each one has their own private time on stage and an equal part in the video.”

      Alisha Franklin, Senior High’s 2019 homecoming queen, was the last regular member of the Class of 2020 to walk across the stage on Friday. Franklin, who began her education at Prospect Elementary School, will move on to Tiffin University to major in international business and play softball.

      Foreign exchange student Nicholas Pascual Ballesteros also received a diploma Friday.

      Brian Skowronski, founder of OH Report, is producing the video, which has used three cameras during the seven days of filming.

      “I think it’s more intimate than a standard graduation because the kids get their moment on stage for a longer time,” Skowronski said.

      The finished video will feature much more than the graduates walking across the stage to pick up their diplomas to the cheers and applause of school officials, guests and the camera crew.

      “I think it’s going to be something really special. We will make it look more like its own TV show,” Skowronski said. “After every 20 or 25 graduates walk, we will pause for brief interviews with some of graduates. I have asked them what their high school career was like and what advice they have for younger Tygers.”

      Pre-recorded addresses by valedictorian Addyson Van Houton, salutatorian Brianna English and class president Cam Todd will be inserted, as will remarks by Superintendent Stan Jefferson, board of education president Renda Cline and Harris.

      Skowronski said the completed 90-minute video also will feature music, sports footage and other memories of the school year. He and an associate will work full time over several days to edit the video before delivering a draft to Senior High administrators by Thursday.

      The graduation video will be posted on and broadcast on WMFD TV at 7 p.m. on Saturday, May 23, the scheduled commencement date.

      A copy will be provided to each graduate, along with a formal cap-and-gown photo and a copy of the program being created to simulate the traditional graduation.

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