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Graduation Ceremony for Class of 2020 On July 31

Ceremony Will Be Held Outdoors Under CDC and Board Of Health Protocols
by Robert Stewart
 
Finally, some good news for this year’s graduating class at Groton-Dunstable Regional High School! After schools closed on March 17 and remained closed for the rest of the year, many activities and traditions associated with the last year of high school and taking the first step into an expanded world were canceled and with it the symbolism of becoming one’s own person in the adult world. However, this year’s class of 2020 will have the opportunity to celebrate the largest event of the year: a full fledged, in-person graduation ceremony. The graduation ceremony will bring classmates together for the first time in three months and will allow them the honor of being recognized for their achievement in the presence of their parents and families.
     Groton-Dunstable Regional School Committee voted last week to hold a graduation ceremony for the Class of 2020 on July 31. While details of the ceremony are being worked out by the School Committee, the important features of the celebration will be gathering the Class of 2020 in person with one another and having families attend to witness their achievements. The ceremony will take place outside with certain restrictions outlined by the state. These restrictions include certain protocols prepared by the Department of Public Health to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
     Some of the state restrictions include seating for the class, distinguished guests and families, face coverings, and some limits on the actual presentation of diplomas and remarks by distinguished guests. The outdoor area selected for graduation must be large enough to accommodate families, classmates and guests in accordance with social distancing guidelines.             Families may sit together closer than six feet but must be seated six feet apart from other families. Classmates must also be seated six feet apart from each other and distinguished guests must be six feet apart from each other and everyone else.
     Everyone involved in the ceremony must wear face coverings including family members, classmates and distinguished guests. It is recommended that staff be available to assist families to seating and that signage be in place to help the orderly entrance and departure of families. No communal gatherings by families of classmates are allowed either before or after the ceremony. It is also recommended that the number of distinguished guests be limited and their remarks brief.
     As far as the actual presentation of diplomas, the state is recommending a couple of options. Under one scenario,
graduates will be invited to walk across the stage individually and in recognition of their graduation move the tassel on their caps from one side to the other. This symbolic gesture would be in lieu of receiving their diplomas. Under the other scenario, graduates would be invited to walk across the stage and receive their diploma by picking it up from a table after it was placed there by the presenter. According to state guidelines, no hugging or handshakes should occur. The School Committee has not yet decided which scenario to follow at the July 31 ceremony.
     Prior to the state allowing graduation exercises to take place after July 18, the School Committee was working on a plan to hold a graduation ceremony sometime in the fall or winter.
     As part of that effort, the School Committee surveyed seniors to determine what dates would work for the majority of the class. The survey revealed that seniors would be open or have flexibility to hold a ceremony in either late summer, Thanksgiving break or Christmas break. The one option that seniors overwhelmingly rejected was holding a joint graduation ceremony with the Class of 2021 in June 2021.
 
[Note: Meanwhile, don't forget to cheer the class along the motorized graduation parage route on Friday, June 29. The route and information are in a separate article in this section of this online edition of the Groton Herald, and in last week's paper edition.]
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