May 4, 2020 by Hilary Jenison and Carol Britton Meyer (2019 graduation photos by Tammy Hutchison)
Recognizing how important holding a "live" graduation ceremony is to this year's graduating class when so many other events have been postponed or canceled due to COVID-19 social distancing guidelines, Principal Rick Swanson made a proposal at Monday's school committee meeting.
Swanson advocated for postponing the graduation ceremony until Saturday, Aug. 1, rather than the usual early-June date to help shore up the spirits of seniors, parents and faculty/administration during this challenging time -- with the hope that things will settle down enough by that time for the dream of having a live ceremony to become a reality.
"So many kids are missing out on so many rights of passage," School Committee Chair Michelle Ayer said. "It is admirable how they are dealing with the sacrifices they have been asked to make."
Swanson added, "While much has been lost, there are also a lot of things happening that are inspiring. For example, last Friday morning senior parents went out in the heavy rain to place Class of 2020 signs on the lawns of every senior. I also commend the Junior class for hanging a sign in support of the senior class."
While no decisions have yet been made, Swanson also shared they are exploring ways to also continue to hold other events that normally surround what is supposed to be one of the most exciting times in the lives of the senior class, and hoping they might also take place, either in-person or virtually.
Swanson pointed out the need to recognize and celebrate students who may need to depart earlier than August for military purposes, or other, in some way. Possibilities may include a drive-through parade or recognition of seniors of some kind, but no concrete plans have been made at this time.
The senior class is also holding out hope for the prom and senior class barbecue. Swanson shared that school administrators recognize the importance of these events and are committed to trying to make these events happen at a later time if there is a safe way to do so.
School committee member Libby Lewiecki, the parent of a senior, thanked Swanson on behalf of parents of seniors for the "tremendous sense of relief thanks to his efforts, and for giving the graduating class hope."
"We're all hoping for better days ahead," Supt. of Schools Paul Austin said, restating his and other administrators' commitment to trying "everything we can do to make events happen for seniors and their families in a safe way."
It's important to note, Austin said, that teachers across all grades are trying to think of creative ways to honor important events at all grade levels. "The work of the 'new normal' for students and parents is very difficult right now, but everyone is doing a fantastic job," he said.