COVID-19 has caused dilemmas for group gatherings everywhere. From concerts to celebratory events, the pandemic has caused a shift in how people congregate and conduct social outings. Graduating seniors especially, have faced the downside of the pandemic, as they’ve struggled with forgoing many of the traditional events that mark the end of their mandatory schooling, however; things are looking up for this year’s senior class.
After much deliberation amongst seniors, parents and school staff, the class of 2020 will be graduating in a traditional ceremony on Miller Field on July 23rd.
Unlike past years, this year’s graduation planning involved a survey that was taken by seniors and their parents. The survey offered two options for graduation. Option one consisted of a virtual graduation ceremony on June 12th with speeches, awards and scholarships, with live filming by WCAT and an app where families could watch in real time. The goal was to have one vehicle per family pull up in front of the high school, where a stage would be set up. Socially distant staff members would be on the stage and seniors would retrieve their diploma from a table after they had their final walk across the stage. They would then be allowed to take their mask off for a photo and the parents would pick them up. To do this for each student, it would have to be executed 127 times.
“Option one is not something we really wanted but it was something we could afford to do in a timely manner one week after seniors finished their last class,” said Superintendent Lisa Howard.
Following the survey, option two was the most popular choice, earning votes from 82% of students and 84% of parents. This option will lean toward a much more traditional ceremony, on Miller Field at the end of July, however; it will be dependent on future governor guidelines.
With the help of the fire department, police, and Winthrop Department of Public Health, seniors will be part of a traditional graduation ceremony. This also comes alongside the CDC’s new guidance that outdoor ceremonies are permitted after July 19th.
“If we receive opposing guidance, we will revert back to option one. Over the past 11 weeks, I’ve learned that plans sometimes change. I have sincere gratitude to the folks involved in the planning of this year’s graduation, which is an event we look forward to all year. The communication between the senior class advisors and Principal Crombie has been excellent through the entire process.”
Howard shared that they are still working on a plan for scholarship and senior class nights. Depending on the outcome, these may be separate from graduation or in conjunction with the ceremony.