For some middle and high schools, this year’s graduations may seem like deja vu, taking place virtually or outside like last year. Meanwhile, most schools consulted for this story are celebrating indoors, socially distanced in auditoriums, gyms and synagogues.
Jewish High School Graduates
The Weber School
On May 28, The Weber School will be holding its graduation for 75 graduates on Kopman Field, the school’s soccer field. “The event will be held under tents to allow for a ceremony rain or shine,” said Julie Crow, director of communications and marketing.
“The audience will be limited. Each student will get a set number of guests.” That number will be determined based on recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, she added.
Last year, the graduation was a drive-in ceremony in the school’s parking lot. In a similar way, the school held a senior commitment day parade in which graduates showed off their college pride with cars decorated for the occasion. This year’s parade was May 2.
Atlanta Jewish Academy
This year’s Atlanta Jewish Academy graduating seniors were to receive their diplomas in the AJA auditorium May 26 with family members and close friends seated nearby in “pods,” socially distanced from others, said Barrie Cohn, director of marketing and communications.
Each member of the 2021 graduating class was allowed to invite eight family members and friends to join them. Family groups were to sit together, socially distanced from other pods. There were to be speeches from valedictorian Matthew Minsk and salutatorian Kira Mermelstein, as well as from Head of School Rabbi Ari Leubitz with greetings from board president Carol Ratner.
Other celebratory events included a high school sports awards program on April 30 and an outdoors high school non-sports awards ceremony with refreshments on May 12. There was to be an informal picnic for seniors and their parents the night before graduation, May 25. No graduation reception is planned, but pictures were taken by photographer Harold Alan.
Yeshiva Ohr Yisrael
Yeshiva Ohr Yisrael, the boys’ high school in Toco Hills, is graduating its largest class this year June 20. The 19-year-old school has a senior class of 20 students, most of them from Atlanta. The graduation ceremony will take place in Congregation Beth Jacob’s Heritage Hall. Each graduate will be able to invite 10 guests, which includes members of their family, and groups will be seated together in pods, with social distancing between them. Based on the latest medical protocols, the ceremony may be open to the community.
Select representatives of the graduating class will speak at the ceremony, and there will be greetings from Rosh Yeshiva (head of school) Rabbi Meir Neuberger and Menachel (principal) Rabbi Avrohom Tkatch. An informal reception may take place following the graduation ceremony.
Temima High School for Girls
This year Temima High School will graduate 11 seniors in Beth Jacob’s Heritage Hall June 17. Every graduate may invite 10 guests, who will sit together in groups distanced 6 feet apart, and other community members may be able to attend. The number of attendees will be determined by Beth Jacob’s COVID safety requirements. Those unable to participate in person, will be able to Zoom-connect to the event.
At graduation, half of the senior class will speak, in addition to Temima principal Miriam Feldman and president Rabbi Doron Silverman. A highlight of the evening will be a special tribute to Rabbi Shimon and Anna Kaminetzky, who moved to Atlanta for its Jewish schools. Their fourth (and youngest) daughter is graduating this year.
In keeping with Temima tradition, a 12th grade overnight event will take place with the principal before the students leave for seminaries in Israel next year.
Eighth Grade Graduates
The Davis Academy
For the 71 eighth grade students at The Davis Academy, it may not have been the final year or graduation they expected, said Amy Shafron, head of school. “Wearing masks daily, separated by cohorts, b’nai mitzvah and Kabbalat Shabbats over Zoom, and the unfortunate cancellation of the annual class trip to Israel that culminates their many years at Davis.
“While it was a very unusual year … the students and teachers’ flexibility, resilience and determination to make this year as ‘normal’ as possible was boosted by the commitment of families and the entire community to ensure these children would … enjoy their final year at Davis.”
Eighth graders kicked off their celebration week before the May 11 graduation at a virtual all-school Kabbalat Shabbat, “where they reflected on their Davis values and best memories and were honored by the school community. They enjoyed a spirit week with themed ‘dress-down’ days,” wearing their future high school shirts, and they were showered with treats and gifts throughout the week including Israel-themed gift bags, bubble tea, Waffle House and Southern Crust food trucks, cookies and King of Pops.
After wrapping up their final exams, the entire student body and faculty and staff cheered on the eighth graders with horns, banners and pom poms at an all-school car-parade, which took place on the lower school campus May 11.
Graduation was in-person and via Zoom, with the in-person experience taking place on-campus in the school’s outdoor nature sanctuary amphitheater with only the graduating students and their parents present. The ceremony included: an invocation and benediction by Rabbi Micah Lapidus; words of reflection by Head of School Amy Shafron, and Associate Head of School and Principal Drew Frank; diploma presentation and remarks shared by each child; and a walk down memory lane with a video produced by members of the graduating class.
The Epstein School
Epstein School’s graduation for 39 eighth grade graduates was May 25 at the Sandy Springs Performing Arts Center. “We have worked closely with the administration of City Springs to create a COVID-safe environment for our graduates and their families,” said Lani Asher, director of strategic marketing and communications. Attendance was limited to the graduate and four guests each, she said.
“Everyone will go through temperature checks as they enter; everyone must wear a mask; seats are grouped by fours, with space between groups. (City Springs is taping off seating that meets social distancing requirements).
“The graduates will be seated together, but with socially distant space between them.
“Most speeches are pre-recorded with school officials delivering their remarks in person.
“There isn’t a reception, or any food provided – so that masks stay on the entire time.”
Torah Day School of Atlanta
This year’s TDSA eighth grade graduation will take place June 7 for the girls and June 8 for the boys. The graduation ceremonies for the 30 graduating eighth graders will be held in the Torah Day School gymnasium. In addition to the middle school faculty and staff, the family and up to eight guests may be invited by each graduate. Each group will be seated in pods, with each pod separated from the others by 6 feet.
There will be speeches from the graduates, Head of School Rabbi Meir Cohn, board president Miriam Cann and Rabbi Ilan D. Feldman, and diplomas and other presentations will follow. No reception is planned; however, the graduates will be given a box of treats to enjoy with their families at home. A few weeks before graduation, the eighth graders will travel to a cabin for an overnight trip.
Chaya Mushka Children’s House
Chaya Mushka will graduate its eighth grade students in a live ceremony in the Congregation Beth Tefillah sanctuary June 1. Attendance will be limited to school faculty and staff and the families of the graduates.
The ceremony will include presentations, diplomas and thank yous for the six graduates, as well as speeches by the students, executive director Rabbi Isser New, school principals Leah Sollish and Elaine Padron, and a representative of the board of directors. The evening will feature an original video, which was created and produced by the graduating students.
No class party is planned; however, a limited, COVID-safe reception will take place for graduates and their families following the ceremony.
Public High School Graduates
Many of the public schools planned to have in-person ceremonies for their graduating seniors this month.
Cobb County Schools
Ceremonies for Cobb graduates began May 24 and continue through June 4 at McEachern High School’s Cantrell Stadium in Powder Springs. In case of inclement weather, June 5 also has been set aside as a makeup day for postponed ceremonies. Ceremonies are not scheduled May 30-31 because of Memorial Day and will only be held in the morning and evening to avoid the heat of the afternoon, the district reported.
Tickets will be limited to comply with public health guidance. It’s also planning to livestream each ceremony, according to its website.
Gwinnett County Schools
According to its website, most Gwinnett graduations will take place at Infinite Energy Arena in Duluth with tickets distributed based on Gov. Brian Kemp’s current executive order regarding gatherings at venues. Every student will receive at least two tickets. Appropriate spacing between groups is planned. The district requires masks to be worn at all indoor events, including graduation. For graduations held at stadiums, tickets will be distributed based on district guidelines for outdoor competitions, which allow for 30 percent capacity for eating. The wearing of masks or cloth face coverings is encouraged. Due to limited seating, graduation will be livestreamed, allowing family and friends to view the ceremonies.
Fulton County Schools
Graduation ceremonies for Fulton County seniors began May 15 and continue through May 27 at various locations, including Ameris Bank Amphitheater, Roswell Presbyterian Church, Bill Badgett Stadium and Banneker, Creekside, Tri-Cities and Westlake stadiums.
DeKalb County Schools
Graduation ceremonies for DeKalb seniors began May 21 and continue through May 28, mostly at James R. Hallford Stadium in Clarkston.
Atlanta Public Schools
Graduations began May 24 and continue through May 27 at Georgia Tech’s Bobby Dodd Stadium in Atlanta.
- Roni Robbins
- Chana Shapiro
- Community Partners
- The Weber School
- atlanta jewish academy
- Yeshiva Ohr Yisrael
- Matthew Minsk
- Kira Mermelstein
- Julie Crow
- Centers for Disease Control
- Barrie Cohn
- Harold Alan
- Ari Leubitz
- Carol Ratner
- Congregation Beth Jacob
- Rosh Yeshiva
- Rabbi Meir Neuberger
- Rabbi Avrohom Tkatch
- Davis Academy
- Temima High School For Girls
- Miriam Feldman
- Rabbi Doron Silverman
- Rabbi Shimon
- Anna Kaminetzky
- Amy Shafron
- Rabbi Micah Lapidus
- Drew Frank
- Epstein School
- Sandy Springs Performing Arts Center
- city springs
- Lani Asher
- Torah Day School of Atlanta
- Rabbi Meir Cohn
- Miriam Cann
- Rabbi Ilan D. Feldman
- Chaya Mushka Children’s House
- Congregation Beth Tefillah
- Rabbi Isser New
- Leah Sollish
- Elaine Padron
- Cobb County Schools
- Infinite Energy Arena
- Brian Kemp
- Gwinnett County Schools
- Fulton County Schools
- DeKalb County Schools
- Atlanta Public Schools
- Ameris Bank Amphitheater
- Roswell Presbyterian Church
- Bill Badgett Stadium
- Tri-Cities stadium
- Westlake stadium
- Bobby Dodd Stadium
- James R. Hallford Stadium