During the first day of graduation rehearsal on Tuesday, Douglas County High Principal Andre Weaver saw most of the members of the senior class for the first time this school year.

With the large number of students taking online courses due to the pandemic, Weaver has had little interaction with many students.

Tonight, he will oversee the graduation of 497 seniors in one of his final acts as the school’s principal. It is the second-largest graduation class in the county behind the 520 seniors at Alexander.

Weaver has accepted a position as an assistant superintendent with the Cartersville city school system.

“This whole graduation is so surreal,” said Weaver, who has spent 19 years at DCHS as an administrator, teacher and coach. “It is sort of bitter-sweet and I’m feeling all the emotions that come with graduation. I like to be active in the students’ experience here but because of the pandemic, I haven’t had much opportunity to interact a lot with this class.”

There will be a total of 2,092 seniors graduating from the Douglas County School System’s five high schools, starting Wednesday night with Lithia Springs.

Douglas County High will hold its graduation at 8 a.m. Thursday at New Manchester High.

New Manchester will have 394 seniors to graduate during Friday night’s 8 p.m. ceremonies. Chapel Hill has 362 seniors and Lithia Springs will graduate 319 seniors.

In addition to DCHS’ graduation today, Chapel Hill will hold graduation at 8 p.m. Thursday.

Alexander will have graduation exercises at 8 a.m. Friday with New Manchester’s ceremonies taking place at 8 p.m. that day.

All the graduations will be streamed live.

It is the second straight year that the DCSS will hold on-campus graduation exercises because of the pandemic. In the past, school’s used the much-larger coliseum at the University of West Georgia to accommodate more guests.

Each senior has been given five tickets for the graduation.

“We’re just asking families to sit together at the graduation,” Superintendent Trent North said. “Our students, we’re requiring them to wear masks into the graduation. But once they’re seated they can take their mask off if they feel comfortable. We’re just putting natural protocols in place that respect science and keeps them safe as well.”

Last year’s graduation exercises were pushed back until July because of CDC restrictions on large gatherings.

DCHS senior Sammi Zhu said she is excited the day has finally come for graduation.

Zhu is the county’s STAR Student and is in the running to be the school’s valedictorian after finishing with a 4.0 grade-point average in the International Baccalaureate program and scoring 1,550 on the SAT.

“This is a really big day for a lot of us,” said Zhu, who will attend Harvard. “I’m excited because I did most of my classes virtual this school year. I’m glad we had the graduation date set because I’m a real organized person, and I like to plan ahead.”