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Deployed parents can see graduation ceremonies via webcast

When Kaiserslautern and Ramstein high school seniors cross the stage to receive their diplomas, signaling the start of the next phase of their lives, deployed parents, thousands of miles away, won’t miss a thing.

They can view their cap and gown-clad graduates turn their tassels via live webcasts.

Through a combined effort and the latest technology, the webcasts make it possible for at least 18 graduation ceremonies across Europe to be viewed by about 180 deployed parents in Iraq, Afghanistan, Africa and other locations. From Ramstein American High School, about 20 students and their deployed parents are expected to participate in graduation webcasts while about 14 graduates from Kaiserslautern American High School will share their day with their deployed parent over the Internet.

The graduation webcast program, in its third year for DODDS-Europe, is a monumental technical challenge, said Diana Ohman, Director DODDS-Europe, who has been involved with each of the yearly webcasts. But, they are emotionally significant to the student and the deployed parent, she said.

“It is important to the graduating senior that he or she be able to share the event with their parents, as well as for the deployed parent to be able to view their son or daughter crossing the stage,” she said.

Ramstein’s ceremony is Wednesday and Kaiserslautern’s  ceremony is June 9. Across Europe, 10 graduation ceremonies will take place simultaneously on June 9. The last ceremony will be webcast on the evening of June 16.

Deployed parents can also view student messages recorded in advance for the occasion and talk one-on-one with their graduate via video teleconference or web cams following the ceremony.

The collective effort – by the DODDS-Europe; U.S. Army, Europe; 5th Signal Command; U.S. Air Forces in Europe; Combined Joint Task Force 76 -Afghanistan; Multi-National Coalition – Iraq; American Forces Network Europe; and M-CAST Engineering Services – is intended to give graduating students and deployed parents the opportunity to share in this life event.
Planning for this year’s webcast began in January. Seniors who had, or anticipated having parents deployed at graduation time, were identified through the high schools.

Schools helped identify the students with deployed parents, who will be notified about when webcast Internet sites are online. Parents will be provided logon and password information and will be assisted in coordinating one-on-one video teleconferences with their graduates following the ceremony.

“Once the ceremonies are complete, the American Forces Network – Europe will rebroadcast the graduation ceremonies,” said Ann Mulligan, AFN-Europe’s Director of Broadcasting. Dates and times will be announced at a later date.
(Courtesy of DODDS-Europe Public Affairs Office)