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WSHS announces graduation ceremony plans

Graduation sign

The Class of 2020 is the 150th class to graduate from Winona Area Public Schools. 

The ceremony, however, will be the first of its kind.

Winona Senior High School will hold a car graduation for the Class of 2020 beginning at approximately 6 p.m. Friday, June 5. WSHS Principal Mark Anderson, Assistant Principal Isaac Matzek and other administrators met with senior leaders to plan the ceremony, which had to be altered due to the COVID-19 pandemic and guidance from Gov. Tim Walz and the Minnesota Department of Health.

The students were adamant that they wanted the entire senior class to be able to participate in the ceremony, which meant that holding a delayed ceremony later in the summer was not their preferred option. Several students have commitments (military, athletic and career) that will take them out of Winona shortly after the end of the school year.

Usually held at Paul Giel Field (or inside the gymnasium in case of inclement weather), the ceremony will instead be held in the circle drive in front of the high school. Each family will be allowed one car; administration has reached out to families who may need support for transportation to help find accomodations.

Families are asked to line up on Lake Street (which will be closed to other traffic) in one car per family beginning at 5 p.m. Each family must be in a separate car, and those who are high-risk or sick are asked to stay at home. 

  • Seniors with last names A-E are asked to line up starting at 5 p.m.
  • Seniors with last names F-L are asked to line up starting at 5:15 p.m.
  • Seniors with last names M-R are asked to line up starting at 5:30 p.m.
  • Seniors with last names S-Z are asked to line up starting at 5:45 p.m.

At 6 p.m., the Winona Fire Department and local law enforcement will lead the seniors and families on a parade out of the high school lot, then right on Gilmore Avenue, right on Huff Street, then another right on Lake Street to the same place from which each car started.

Once the parade is finished, the ceremony will begin.

Cars will proceed one-by-one into the circle, and the graduate’s name will be announced by Principal Mark Anderson. The graduate will receive their diploma from WAPS Superintendent Dr. Annette K. Freiheit while they remain in the car with their family.

There are several rules participants will have to follow:

  • Students and families must stay in their cars and are not allowed to get out.
  • No walking or biking during the ceremony
  • Masks and gloves will be worn by those handing students their diplomas

There will be many ways to watch and listen to the ceremony. Families in the car (or at home) can tune into KWNO to hear a broadcast of the ceremony. HBC will broadcast it on television, and the event will be live-streamed on 

Additional announcements about the ceremony can be found at