FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. – Innovative techniques were implemented to allow Fort Campbell High School’s 87 graduating seniors to celebrate the end of their high school careers, while still practicing social distancing.Social distancing guidelines enforced because of the COVID-19 pandemic did not allow for a traditional commencement ceremony. However, FCHS Principal Kim Butts and her team tackled those challenges head on to give seniors an unforgettable celebration.“The team of dedicated FCHS teachers and staff did our best to maintain traditions that our Falcons have experienced since our opening in 1962,” said Stacy Daniels, FCHS senior guidance counselor.During a period of three days, seniors and their immediate Family members visited the high school at appointed times. During that time, seniors wore their caps and gowns, received their diplomas, recorded special senior shout outs and had their photos taken.“Following the [diploma] presentation, students were asked to toss their hats – a graduation tradition,” Daniels said. “When the video is compiled and aired, all of the individual pieces will be combined to create one ceremony and even one hat toss with all of the graduates.”The video will be edited by a team of student volunteers under the guidance of Joel Brown, FCHS video communications teacher. Student volunteers include Pilar Cerritos, Noemi Cerritos, Angel Manalang, Hannah Estes, Caterina Martineau and Halee Brugge.The student-produced video will include traditional elements such as speeches presented by guests, valedictorian and salutatorian, as well as the singing of “The Star-Spangled Banner.”“Students walked down our traditional red carpet, just as they typically do at the Austin Peay State University Dunn Center,” Daniels said. “As they walked down the red carpet, on the student’s left side were photographs of their teachers and school staff – some wearing graduation regalia, some wearing Sunday dress and many holding signs of well wishes.”As the students approached the podium, their parents presented them with diploma covers. Extended Family members and friends also were invited to witness each graduate’s special milestone by video-calling.Family inclusion was a priority for Butts and her team, Daniels said.“The receiving of a diploma took much hard work by the Families and the schools students have attended,” she said. “The investment we make in students is truly a joint venture. We were so excited to allow Families to experience this moment in light of these atypical commencement circumstances.”Niashilli Miles, graduating senior, said this was a memorable experience despite the circumstances.“I’m glad they were able to pull something together because I was able to see some of the teachers who I really love and mean a lot to me,” Miles said. “It’s hard to know it’s your last year and you couldn’t spend it with your classmates and teachers.”Miles has been a Falcon for four years. She also attended middle school and some elementary school at Fort Campbell.“I’m so happy this day is finally here. My four years [at FCHS] have been long and hard, but I know that all the teachers here are here to help me and I finished everything,” she said. “It was great. I loved it.”Miles plans to attend Louisiana State University in the fall to study physics. She aspires to become a general surgeon.She is grateful to her mother, Katrise Newman, who constantly encouraged her to persevere.“Even though I wanted to give up, she told me ‘You can’t give up. You’ve got this.’ So I just kept pushing and now I’ve graduated,” Miles said.T’ea Valenti, graduating senior, agreed the road has not always been easy. Valenti, a four-year JROTC member, served as battalion noncommissioned officer-in-charge. She also graduated as a National Honor Society member and is a recipient of the National Sojourners Award and National Security Award.Valenti plans to pursue higher education at APSU in the fall.“I’m glad I was able to meet all of my classmates and I hope we stay in touch,” Valenti said. “I wish everyone the best.”The official graduation video will air 5 p.m. May 16 on the FCHS website: https://www.dodea.edu/FORTCAMPBELLHS/ and Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/dodeafortcampbellhs/.Diploma covers were received during the individual graduations, and diplomas will be mailed to students at the beginning of June.