Medford mom starts petition for high school graduation

MEDFORD, Ore. — A group of high school parents are advocating for an in-person graduation ceremony.

Kim Wisnovsky’s daughter, Gabi Wisnovsky, is the 2020 valedictorian for South Medford High School.

She became inspired to create a more traditional graduation ceremony for the school, after seeing other high schools in different states host graduation with strict physical distancing guidelines.

“I started this text group with like 10 moms that I knew and added a bunch of other moms, there’s about 20 of us and we just started brainstorming ideas,” said Wisnovsky.

She created a petition that lays out the plan for graduation.

It says students would sit six feet apart with a safe distance from the audience.

Wisnovsky sent it to the Oregon Health Authority, the Oregon Department of Education and Governor Kate Brown.

“Spigelberg Stadium seats 9,200 people. We have 400 graduates approximately. We could put chairs out 6 feet apart, have everyone wear masks,” she added.

Wisnovsky says she received over 100 signatures from other parents within a week.

Despite getting support from both the school board and state senator Jeff Golden for the in-person grad plans, the petition, Wisnovsky says, was rejected Friday.

She thinks the governor ignored the petition.

“She didn’t look at it, she didn’t read the support from the community, she had made up her mind we weren’t going to do this,” Wisnovsky said.

State senator Jeff Golden who represents much of Jackson County, says the governor is doing her best.

“I do understand the disappointment and with that came a couple of comments that Governor Brown doesn’t care about the southern part of the state. I do wanna say a ‘no exceptions process’ is the opposite of that,” said Golden.

Undeterred, Wisnovsky says she will keep trying to get an in-person graduation ceremony approved.

“They’ve worked so hard, they’ve earned this right,” she said.

Golden says with the rejection, the state suggested school districts do online or drive-up graduations – something being planned across the state.

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