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Vermilion Parish high school seniors protesting graduation plans

Posted at 8:07 PM, May 05, 2020

ABBEVILLE — Some high school seniors in Vermilion Parish are demanding the school system allow them to have a traditional graduation.

Interim Superintendent James "Brad" Prudomme announced last week that schools would hold individual graduation ceremonies because the mitigation measures in place to attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19 would make a "normal" graduation ceremony impossible.

Each of the high schools would schedule a ceremony for their graduates to receive their diplomas individually on each campus.

North Vermilion High senior Caleb Reese says he is concerned that while individual graduations set for May 14-17 are good for some, like those that are leaving in summer for jobs, military, etc., he and some of his fellow graduating seniors want a more traditional ceremony for most seniors in July with social distancing measures being practiced.

"Why can't we just see how it's going to be in July? And, if not, we can still have the individual graduations if it's still in the same circumstances or if we're still under a stay-at-home order," said Reese.

Students say they at least want to celebrate their accomplishments all together since important milestones were taken from them.

"We had to miss out on senior pranks, prom, and the stuff a senior normally does before they leave, and I fee like it's just not fair," said Abbeville High School senior Zah'kereya Bell.

Fellow Abbeville High School senior Synnaih Harrison agreed, saying, "It wouldn't be fair for us to be the only senior class to not do the same things that the other seniors did."

The students received support and participation from some of their parents.

"I think it's awesome," said Crystal Bell, Zah'kereya's mother. "They can be heard, so they can understand what they're going through, what they're feeling. They really want to graduate. They don't want to do it like that."

Prudhomme eventually walked outside to address the crowd in front of the school board office.

After some thought, he provided them with his response.

"I will take this into consideration. I thank you for coming," said Prudhomme. "That's all I have to say. Thank y'all."

The crowd then cheered before walking back to Magdalen Square.

"I will be sending him an email, or I might mail him a letter with my full plan of how things can go," said Reese. "He can use it; he cannot. He can tweak it, but I think it looks pretty promising."

The superintendent didn't give a timeline as to when he'd make a decision.