Lincoln Academy and Wiscasset Middle High School have plans in place for unique graduation ceremonies, while Boothbay Region High School and Medomak Valley High School have yet to make decisions.
The state has given local school boards the discretion to decide whether to host graduation ceremonies in accordance with state public health guidelines.
High schools face a difficult decision: postpone graduation, host an online ceremony, or host an in-person event with restrictions.
LA and WMHS will hold in-person events with restrictions, while BRHS and MVHS continue to mull the question. Coastal Christian School did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
BRHS is considering “numerous options and formats,” Principal Tricia Campbell said.
“We are in the middle of plans and are not yet ready to broadcast,” MVHS Principal Linda Pease said.
The Maine Department of Education issued recommendations for in-person ceremonies May 6.
Gatherings in May have a limit of 10 people, while gatherings from June through August have a limit of 50. In both cases, physical distancing of 6 feet must be maintained and cloth face coverings must be worn, with some exceptions. The state continues to mandate a two-week quarantine for anyone returning to Maine.
The Department of Education gave examples of different types of in-person ceremonies, including drive-in ceremonies, outdoor ceremonies, or multiple small indoor ceremonies. Another option is to host graduation in a year as an “early reunion.”
Virtual options include online ceremonies and social media or video tributes.
WMHS will hold an in-person graduation in its upper parking lot from 7-9 p.m., Thursday, June 11. The school will livestream the event.
All family members must remain in their vehicles. Teachers will have designated parking spaces. The class will complete the traditional march to “Pomp and Circumstance” while observing physical distancing.
WMHS Principal Charles Lomonte will call each graduate’s name and present the diplomas, which will be disinfected and inside a sterilized cart.
Seniors will make speeches and, at the conclusion of the ceremony, a drone will photograph the graduates as they throw their caps into the air.
The Wiscasset Fire Department and Wiscasset Police Department will escort a car parade of students and their families through the town. Each car will have a sign identifying the senior inside.
Community members are encouraged to park on the side of the road and stay in their vehicles to watch the parade.
A fireworks display in the lower parking lot of WMHS will conclude the celebration. Audience members must watch from their cars.
Lincoln Academy will hold graduation on its William A. Clark Field the afternoon of Friday, June 5.
LA will distribute diplomas to students in person, one adviser group at a time. An adviser group consists of 10-17 students.
Each adviser group will meet, arrange cars, and follow their adviser onto campus, where they will park at the foot of the turf field.
“Students can exit their cars (and) walk onto the turf field, where each will have a designated 6-foot ‘alley’ to walk to a table with their diploma on it,” school spokesperson Jenny Mayher said. “Then the entire group will pick up their diploma off a table, flip their tassel, have their photo taken, march back to the foot of the turf field, and re-enter their cars.”
After each adviser group completes these steps, it will leave campus and the next group will follow.
Mayher said the school consulted students, parents, staff, and trustees as it formed the plan.
An in-person celebration is tentatively scheduled for Aug. 8. If needed, the celebration will be postponed to Thanksgiving or Christmas vacation.
“We are doing our best to strike a balance between keeping everyone safe and healthy and honoring this momentous event in our seniors’ lives,” Mayher said. “Although this is not the LA graduation we expected a few months ago, we encourage seniors and their families to find the fun in this plan: decorate cars, bring noisemakers, come up with a graduation playlist for the car ride.”
Students must wear masks from the time they exit their car until they reach their own “alley” on the field.
This setup will allow for families to see the diploma presentation from their cars.
The school will livestream the ceremony.
“We look forward to celebrating the class of 2020 in person at a future date when we can all celebrate in one space together, but at least with this ceremony we can let these students know that we think they are ready for whatever comes next,” Mayher said. “This will certainly be a graduation no one will forget!”