High schools finalize end-of-year plans, celebrate seniors


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — West Michigan high schools are once again working to figure out how to celebrate seniors at the end of another non-traditional school year.

At Godwin Heights High School, officials plan to hold graduation outside on the football field. School leaders say they feel it’s the safest way to get together students and their families in person to celebrate all they’ve accomplished.

They will be capping the event at 1,000 guests and providing tickets to make sure they stick to that number. School leaders say they also plan to hold their prom on the field, too, though it’ll look a little different.

West Ottawa High School will also hold graduation at the football field. They’ll host their version of prom at the Holland Civic Center. The high school will also host its senior car parade.

Principals from both schools say they’re excited to celebrate what their seniors were able to accomplish.

“Our goal has just been to make sure our seniors have the best year that they possibly can,” said Chad Conklin, the principal of Godwin Heights High School. “Due to COVID-19, there’s been a lot of things that have been taken away, but we wanted to ensure the opportunity that they had prom, ensure the opportunity to have graduation, as well as our other senior activities.”

“My first message is let let’s celebrate what did happen,” said Jason Reinecke, the principal of West Ottawa High School. “I think the second part of that is also understanding these individuals are probably going to be walk out of this and be very successful in life because of what they’ve had to overcome in the last year and still accomplish what they’ve accomplished.”

News 8 also reached out to other districts in both Kent and Ottawa County to learn their end-of-the-year plans. Here’s what we heard back:

Kent County

  • Cedar Springs High School
    • Prom: Canceled
      • It was going to be at LMCU Ballpark, but not enough students bought tickets.
    • Graduation: June 3
  • Godwin Heights High School
    • Prom: May 15 on the football field
    • Graduation: May 26 on the football field but is being capped at 1,000 guests, providing tickets to stay within MDHHS guidelines.
  • Kelloggsville High School
    • Prom: April 24 at Studio D2D with 80 juniors and seniors present and 20 staff members. Students wore masks.
    • Graduation: May 20 at Kentwood Community Church with 140 graduating seniors, 4 guests per senior and district staff. It will be streamed live.
    • “Our school board and superintendent has done a great job of ensuring our seniors are able to have some traditional events while at the same time making sure we are following local guidelines and safety protocols,” said Jim Alston, principal of Kelloggsville High School
  • Rockford High School
    • Prom: It will host a senior celebration on the football field instead.
    • Graduation: It will hold drive-thru graduation, which it did last year as well.

Ottawa County

  • Hudsonville High School
    • Prom: This weekend, changing to an outdoor fun night with yard games, food trucks, etc.
    • Graduation: May 27 on the football field, but still finalizing to be in accordance with MDHHS and OCDPH guidelines.
  • West Ottawa High School
    • Prom: May 22 “Senior Celebration” at Holland Civic Center.
    • Convocation: May 25 in the gym, seniors only, an elementary visit to follow.
    • Senior Parade: May 25
    • Graduation: May 27 at Panther Stadium
  • Jenison High School
    • Senior Parade: May 25 at Jenison High School
    • Graduation: May 27 at JHS Stadium with limited attendance.
  • Allendale High School
    • Still finalizing details.
  • Coopersville High School
    • Graduation: June 2, outdoors at the stadium and capping at 1,000 guests.
  • Zeeland West
    • Senior Honors Ceremony was held on Sunday, May 2.
    • Prom is being held this weekend outside in downtown Zeeland.
    • Graduation is scheduled for May 19 at the stadium with a limit of 1,000 spectators able to attend.

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