Area schools planning for graduations
Graduations are all about the pomp and circumstance, but this year, the pomp may fall victim to the circumstance. The tradition of graduation ceremonies is being carefully weighed against the risks of a pandemic that has overtaken every aspect of life these days.
High school graduations will be anything but normal this year. Instead of double-checking the spelling of the graduates' names, the order of speakers, making sure the flowers have been ordered and the sound system is working, school officials are, instead, simply trying to find a way to honor their seniors and send them off into the world in a dignified way without violating health restrictions or putting anybody at risk.
"We are obviously working under severe restrictions based on guidance from the Governor's office and the Agency of Education," said Mark Tashjian, headmaster at Burr and Burton Academy. "Our goal will be to celebrate the class of 2020 in style while honoring and respecting the safety of our entire community."
Burr and Burton's plans will begin with a fire truck parade on the last day of senior classes May 26, Tashjian said. Seniors will decorate their cars and drive through town before making their way back up Seminary Avenue to BBA where the bell will be ringing in their honor.
"We are working on details regarding commencement," Tashjian said. "We are planning for seniors to have the opportunity to receive their diplomas in caps and gowns on campus in very small groups."
That will be followed by a broader celebration with keynote speakers and graduation awards, Tashjian said.
"For this phase of the celebration, we want to give each student and each family the opportunity for a dignified moment," Tashjian said. "And we want to create the opportunity for the class as a whole to celebrate together in some fashion."
Even this is less than perfect and the seniors deserve all the support they can provide.
"None of us envisioned these sorts of obstacles, and the class of 2020 deserves every bit of support we can muster as they lead the student body through this historic time," Tashjian said.
At Long Trail School in Dorset, plans are in the works for a May 22 celebration with the hope that something better can be put together later in the summer if the virus threat abates.
"We all wish we were celebrating under blue skies on our dazzling campus, as our students had long been anticipating," said Seth Linfield, head of school at Long Trail School. "Our students, faculty, and parents partnered to arrive at a series of alternative virtual gatherings that we expect will be both meaningful and fun."
Chelley Tifft, communications manager at LTS, said the school will hold a Commencement Parade at 4 p.m. May 22 in Dorset.
The parade will begin at Long Trail School and head into the Dorset village, past the Dorset Green and ending up at the Dorset Playhouse.
Faculty, family and friends will line the route to cheer them on. Gifts from the junior class and individual cupcakes from The Flour Girl Bakeshop will be waiting.
The LTS tradition of each senior giving a speech is on hold for now.
"We are still hoping to be able to have a live ceremony at some point over the summer so we are not having seniors give speeches yet," Tifft said.
There will be a virtual awards ceremony and IB Pinning on May 20 with seniors, their parents and faculty.
"The feel of this ceremony reflects the remarkable grit and determination shown by our seniors in this period," Linfield said. "We are so proud of our seniors, and we cannot wait to welcome each and every one back in person to campus as graduates."
Plans are not solidified yet in at Arlington Memorial High School, but principal Sarah Merrill, said the school is working to create the best option to honor graduates.
"Arlington Memorial is working together with seniors, parents, and teachers to plan meaningful end-of-the-year celebrations," Merrill said. "We are committed to honoring the Class of 2020, and we will be following the guidelines recommended by Gov. [Phil] Scott and Secretary [Dan] French."
Merrill said the class valedictorian is Arianna Barrios and the salutatorian is Caolyn Crawford.
"Our Valedictorian Arianna Barrios, and our Salutatorian Carolyn Crawford, are preparing speeches, however, we do not yet know in what context they will be shared with the community," Merrill said.
Merrill said part of the celebration will include honoring the seniors with signs and Senior Snapshots to kick off the celebration.
"There are many great ideas being presented, and we will work to bring honor and celebration to our seniors while remaining vigilant to the guidelines for the health and welfare of our community," Merrill said.
Contact Darren Marcy at firstname.lastname@example.org or by cell at 802-681-6534.
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