Life and Religion
|No celebration: Johnson C. Smith University cancels homecoming|
|Coronavirus pandemic scuttles annual pageantry|
|Published Thursday, July 9, 2020 12:27 am|
|FILE PHOTO | TROY HULL|
|Johnson C. Smith University has cancelled all homecoming activities for 2020.|
Homecoming festivities were to include postponed commencement exercises amid the COVID-19 pandemic, which caused school officials to postpone the spring graduation ceremony on May 17. Commencement had been moved to Oct. 28 as part of homecoming week to honor the university’s 271 graduates at Bojangles’ Coliseum.
“Recent data and trends have led us to conclude that we will not have in-person Homecoming activities for the 2020-21 academic year,” President Clarence Armbrister said in a letter on the school’s website. “Unfortunately, the same data and trends led to a similar conclusion for the Commencement Exercises that were scheduled for Oct. 28, 2020, to kick-off our Homecoming activities.”
Keisha Wilson, the university’s registrar, organized a drive-through ceremony on June 5 for graduates in the Charlotte area to pick up their degrees as well as their cap and gown. Armbrister presented them with their diplomas, sharing a few words about their college experience.
“We understand how much our 2020 graduates and their families were looking forward to an in-person graduation ceremony,” Armbrister said. “All of us were looking forward to the traditional pomp and circumstances of graduation and celebrating the milestone achievement with you. I know this is a big disappointment. However, we believe it is best to make the decision at this time in order to give graduates and their families, as well as alumni, appropriate notice and to avoid any last-minute inconveniences.”
Key to the homecoming experience is the football game, which remains planned for Oct. 31. Details pertaining to the game experience itself, such as attendance, will be announced later.
“Your safety—all of our safety—is our top priority,” Armbrister wrote. “Although we are saddened we will not be together in person to Hold High the Gold and Blue, the cancellation of Homecoming activities and Commencement Exercises is necessary to help minimize the spread of COVID-19. Thank you for your understanding during this challenging time. We will all gather as Smithies on campus again; I pray that time will come sooner rather than later. Until then, please remain vigilant in social distancing, wearing masks and hand washing. We will continue to update you as decisions are made and developments unfold.”
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