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Beloit College students are shown at a graduation. The Class of 2021 commencement will have both virtual and in-person components {span} {/span}

BELOIT

Beloit College is planning a livestreaming ceremony online Friday,May 28, for thousands of guests from around the world to be followed by six small in- person ceremonies of about 50 students over the weekend.

“Students have worked so hard to get to this point, and it’s such an accompaniment,” said Beloit College President Scott Bierman. “I will be at all of them and happily so. People are coming from lots of places and we wanted to introduce an in-person component that was meaningful.”

Commencement weekend will kick off at 6 p.m. May 28. The event will include a welcome from Bierman, an address from this year’s commencement speaker Angela Russell of Beloit College’s Class of 1999 and student speakers. During the program, the college will also recognize the top students, the Martha Peterson Prize, single out an outstanding senior and bestow the Warren Miller Blue Skies Award, honoring a graduating senior who has fostered good cheer. These events will be available on the college’s YouTube channel.

“It will be about an hourlong ceremony Friday with families across the world being able to watch through a computer screen and participate,” Bierman said.

Commencement ceremonies will take place on the lawn of Middle College. Bierman said the six smaller ceremonies will be divided by majors with no more than 50 students apiece. Each graduate is allowed to have two family members who will get ticketed access to the in-person site. Access to the sites will be controlled and people will be spread out.

Commencement ceremonies are scheduled for 10 a.m., noon and 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday,May 29 and 30.

“Names will be called and students will go across the stage and get pictures and a diploma, and the family members there will cheer particularly loudly for them. They will have something special and that recognizes them for their great accomplishment,” Bierman said.

He said having a couple thousand people at the same time in the same space wasn’t going to be consistent with the public health rules the college established for the campus. Beloit College has required masking inside and outside throughout the year. The three-day event should keep everyone safe while honoring their accomplishment.

Last year’s commencement was completely virtual.

Not only were the Class of 2021 students sent home in the spring of last year, but they had a different senior year than they imagined when they came to Beloit.

“They have been wonderfully strong, good-willed and resilient and have taken advantage of their senior year,” Bierman said.

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