June 8, 2020 by Carol Britton Meyer
Even though this has been a far-different year from the one long-anticipated by seniors, the creative efforts of students, parents, and school administrators ensure meaningful and enjoyable -- if not the traditional -- end-of-school-year events and celebrations, culminating in the postponed Aug. 1 graduation ceremony.
"As hard as it's been, everyone is doing such a good job of keeping a smile on their faces and doing what they can to celebrate safely and responsibly," said Senior Class President Courtney Sherwood.
Heading the lineup of activities is the Saturday, June 13, car parade, followed by an in-person awards ceremony late that afternoon -- both planned in cooperation with local health and safety officials to ensure that safe distancing and other COVID-19 guidelines and requirements are followed.
The car parade will leave the Resurrection Church parking lot at 9 a.m., continuing down Main Street to the waving and cheers of well-wishers along the parade route before taking a right onto Free Street just before South Shore Baptist Church.
Greetings from a distance
The cheerfully-decorated cars will drive past the high school, where teachers, staff, administrators, and others will greet the students from a distance.
"I'm super-excited about it and everything the class parents have done to salvage our end-of-year festivities," Courtney said.
The Hingham Police will provide an escort, with spacing in-between the vehicles. The intersection of Union and Pleasant streets marks the end of the parade route, where police officers will help disperse the cars in different directions.
"This will be an opportunity for all the members of the senior class to be together," although from a distance, Principal Rick Swanson told the Hingham Anchor.
Some students will drive their own cars, with approval for as many as two per vehicle. One student will drive and the other will wave from the back seat. Everyone is expected to wear face masks.
The senior awards ceremony will take place on the multi-purpose field at 5 p.m. "Only the seniors will be able to attend," Swanson said. "We regret we can't invite their parents, but at this point we feel fortunate that we can have an in-person event at all."
Parents won't miss out entirely on the excitement, however, because a livestream of the ceremony will be available for their virtual participation.
"Anything we do now, including collecting textbooks from students requires the approval of the health and safety departments," Swanson said. "It's all in a state of flux and could change at any time. Who knows!"
'Live' graduation ceremony a possibility
That said, he and the senior class remain hopeful that the graduation ceremony will be "live" as well, "fueled by optimism knowing that we will be able to do an in-person awards ceremony."
If an in-person graduation becomes a reality, students will be spaced between six and 10 feet apart over the entire turf field. "We're not sure about whether guests will be able to attend yet," Swanson said.
Whether or not the senior prom, which traditionally takes place the Thursday before graduation, will take place has not yet been decided. The original date was at the end of May, but due to COVID-19 restrictions did not take place.
"It hasn't been cancelled officially, but it's hard to imagine a socially-distanced prom!" Swanson said. Still, time will tell.
"We are lucky to have had graduation and prom pushed to August, so there is definitely a lot of hope for those," Courtney said.
In the meantime, there's a large banner at the main entrance to the high school that includes photos of the entire senior class, and also a display of graduation caps bearing the names of all the seniors, along with the senior photos featured in the windows of downtown businesses.
"These [demonstrations of support for the graduating class] were such a special surprise, and in a way we get to be celebrated all summer!" Courtney said.
In a true labor of love, parents of seniors are trying to decide the best place to display the Class of 2020 "senior wall" that typically decorates the main hallway leading to the gym the night of the senior all-night, alcohol-free party on graduation night. Parents contribute funny and cute photos from their students' childhoods.
Due to COVID-19, it's unlikely there will be such a gathering this year. "The senior wall tradition will be carried on in some way," Swanson said.