Top of graduate caps with bows and glittered messages

Moraine Park Technical College has announced plans for a limited access in-person commencement ceremony—thanks to the support of their community partner, the Radisson Hotel and Conference Center in Fond du Lac. 

Typically, the College collaborates with its longtime community partner, Fond du Lac High School, to host the annual ceremony. However, with increased restrictions at the K-12 level, the College needed to explore alternative venues. The College considered options including both a virtual and an outdoor ceremony in hopes to make a celebration possible. 

“Last year presented many difficult scenarios outside of our control,” Bonnie Baerwald, Moraine Park president, said. “While this year has had its fair share of challenges, we at least had time to consider options and prepare. It was a goal of ours to make a safe in-person event a possibility. We understand the extreme pressure our local K-12 school districts are under to maintain their operations and knew utilizing Fond du Lac High School would not be an option this year. However, we look forward to continuing our partnership with Fond du Lac High School in the future.” 

The College explored holding an outdoor ceremony at the College’s Fond du Lac campus. However, limited resources and heightened overall risk eliminated that possibility. 

“Commencement is a large undertaking on a normal year and working through scenarios to relocate it outside was challenging,” Baerwald said. “We had weather, access, equipment, security, and safety to consider, among other things. Our goal is to hold a safe ceremony for our graduates and an outdoor event simply presented too many risks.”  

The College considered holding a virtual ceremony, like many other Colleges in the state, until the Radisson Hotel and Conference center stepped forward with an option to use their facility. 

“The Radisson offers a large open space, and by utilizing their facility, we can hold an in-person ceremony that otherwise would likely not be possible,” Baerwald said. “There are restrictions to ensure overall safety—face coverings and temperature checks are required for entry and ceremony attendance will be limited to graduates only. Due to capacity and social distancing restrictions, we are unable to accommodate guests.”

Baerwald added that the College follows the current recommendations of city, state and county public health officials making a capacity restriction needed regardless of venue.

“Our students have proven to be resilient and flexible during a time of so many unknowns and difficult scenarios,” Baerwald said. “While we know this event will look different, we also know in-person ceremonies in our state are still few and far between. I am proud of the work being done to ensure an in-person celebration for our soon-to-be graduates and am grateful to the Radisson for helping us make this possible.”  

Only graduates and Moraine Park employees executing the event will be permitted to attend. The College is expecting 350 graduates to participate in the ceremony. With current capacity restrictions, the Radisson Hotel and Conference Center can accommodate a maximum of 500 guests, and Baerwald has a goal to stay well under the maximum capacity. 

While family, friends and supporters are not able to participate in person, the event will be available via live stream. Ceremony details will continue to be shared with graduates as they unfold and will be made public on the College’s webpage.

For more information on the 2021 commencement ceremony, visit morainepark.edu/commencement.

Kristina Haensgen
Written by Kristina Haensgen
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