Safford announces graduation plans, Thatcher and Pima on hold

David Bell Photo/Gila Valley Central. Paige Bushman, right, poses while Alissa Carter snaps a photo Friday in front of the display of class photos for Safford High School 2020 graduates on the lawn at Safford City Hall.

THATCHER — In a video released to students and parents, Safford High School officials said they have come up with a graduation plan for the class of 2020.

The school plans a virtual graduation in light of the extension of the governor’s stay-at-home order through at least May 15.

The virtual graduation will take place May 12-15 and May 18-19.

“We’re inviting SHS graduates with two of their guests — and we can only limit that to two — will come to the Safford High School football field, to be videoed walking across the stage, getting the picture taken by Holliday’s and receiving your diploma, of course,” said Safford High School Principal Tory Lietzke.

Slots are not alphabetical and will be reserved on a first come-first served basis. Seniors are asked to reserve a date and time by going to

On May 21, which would have been the graduation night, seniors are asked to come to the school’s parking lot, remain in their cars, and watch a fireworks show. After the fireworks, a car cruise around the school will begin, for teachers and staff to celebrate the graduates, followed by a car cruise through Safford’s Downtown.

“I think it’s the best they can do,” said SHS senior Paige Bushman.

The school is requiring one graduate per vehicle for both the virtual graduation, and the fireworks and car cruise night.

“I think it’s a hard time, and I’m just glad we get something,” said senior Alissa Carter

Meanwhile, Thatcher High School — which had planned a drive-through graduation, with speeches, songs and announcements broadcast through car radios — announced those plans are now on-hold, following the increased number of COVID-19 cases in Graham County over the past week.

And Pima announced that no plans for the 2020 graduation have been finalized as of Friday.

Graham County Health Department last reported the county had 15 positive COVID-19 cases; however, the Health Department confirmed at least two more positive cases have occurred, as shown on the Arizona Department of Health Services website. The Graham County Health Department is expected to issue an update on the total number of cases by the close of business Friday.