MENOMINEE — During Thursday’s Menominee Area Public Schools Board of Education meeting, the board heard from the district’s principals and assistant principals on the state of the district’s distance learning program and also discussed the current status of the graduation ceremony.

“As we’re coming into the completion of the fourth week of provided virtual learning, I’d say I’m pretty impressed with how everything is coming together as a whole to help provide for our families in Menominee,” said Drew Buyarski, the assistant principal at Menominee Jr. High School. “A lot of hard work has been done and numerous people have gone out of their comfort zones with others in mind.”

Buyarski said the participation in virtual learning varies between grade levels, but he said the seventh and eighth graders participate fairly well.

“At Blesch, we take random attendance,” said Blesch Intermediate School Principal Scott Martin, “just myself or Randi (Randi Ahrndt, assistant principal at Blesch) goes through the classrooms just to check our numbers, and we’re in the mid-70% range just about every day for kids participating online.”

He said this didn’t include students who have been participating with physical paper packets.

“It’s taking off more than we expected it to,” he said.

Deeanne Pohlmann, the principal of Central Elementary, said attendance has been pretty high at the elementary level. “We have had very good attendance through week four; most of the classes are in double-digits. Most of them are 15 out of 20 that are attending, and that doesn’t take into account the packet students, so that’s just straight numbers.”

She said the lowest numbers they’ve had in a single class has been eight students total, while the highest in a single class was at perfect attendance with all 22 students in that class in attendance online.

High School Principal Michael Sweet said participation at the high school level, however, is much lower. “They’ve got some good numbers at Blesch and Central, but we’re down 20% sometimes or lower in some high school classes, occasionally substantially lower than that, so we’re not engaging those kids as much right now. They feel like they’re finished with the school year, and they’re not connecting,” he said.

This prompted Sweet to talk to the high school teachers, requesting that they ask the students who are participating what can be done to continue to build on what has been put in place.

As far as graduation is concerned, Superintendent John Mans said the dates are set at this point for June 11 and a rain date of June 12, assuming the district is allowed to at that point. He said the ceremony would be done at Blesch Field.

“If it rains on June 11, then we go June 12. If it rains June 12, we go June 13. Once we have everything set up and ready to go, we’ll go. If we’re not able to go, then we go July 9, and then it ends up being the same scenario,” he said. Mans said he hopes it will be a typical graduation ceremony. “That’s what we need, that’s what they need for closure, so that is the plan right now. If we have to shrink back and do a virtual one, that’s a last resort. We don’t want to do that, quite frankly. I don’t have any desire to do something virtually, I want to hold a regular ceremony. That’s the way it should be; we owe it to the kids. They did all this work, so we want to do it and do it right.”