Medomak Valley High School will celebrate graduation with a parade on Sunday, June 7 and a drive-in or drive-thru ceremony Wednesday, June 10.
The parade will proceed from Warren Community School to MVHS, while the ceremony will take place on the MVHS campus. Both will follow Maine Department of Education guidelines for graduation ceremonies during the COVID-19 emergency.
Seniors will vote on whether to have a drive-in or drive-thru ceremony, according to MVHS Principal Linda Pease. She expects a decision Friday, May 22. The rain date for the ceremony is Saturday, June 13.
MVHS honors graduates and staff, with RSU 40 administration, developed the initial plan for a parade and drive-in ceremony, according to an email from Pease to seniors and their families Thursday, May 14.
In response, some seniors expressed concern about plans for the drive-in ceremony. On Monday, May 18, Pease sent another email explaining the options for the ceremony and the vote.
The concerns involve the amount of time families would be in their vehicles, the ability or inability to see the ceremony, the distance from vehicles to the stage, and various health and safety concerns.
The drive-in ceremony would feature a stage in the student parking lot at the high school. Seniors would graduate in groups of 25. They could sign up for one of six time slots – 9 a.m., 11 a.m., 1 p.m., 3 p.m., 5 p.m., and 7 p.m.
One at a time, each senior would be called to the stage for scholarship awards and diploma presentations. Up to four family members could accompany each student.
Family members would hand the diploma to the graduate and an MVHS employee would take a photo for free distribution later.
Each senior would receive three vehicle passes for the ceremony. Vehicles without passes would not be allowed onto the campus, according to Pease.
The school will livestream and record the event. Students will receive access to the recording.
Restrooms will be available in the school’s science wing. Young children would have to be accompanied by an adult and custodial staff would monitor and clean the facilities throughout the event.
The second option for the graduation ceremony involves a drive-thru event, according to Pease.
For the drive-thru ceremony, vehicles would enter at the main entrance of the high school and proceed around the campus’s outer circle.
A stage would be set up in front of Medomak Middle School. Seniors would have time slots to arrive at campus, with families allowed to arrive in up to three vehicles as long as they coordinate their arrival so they can drive through together.
Time slots for the drive-thru ceremony will be 3 p.m., 5 p.m., and 7 p.m.
When the vehicle with the graduate arrives at the stage, the senior and up to four family members will come onto the stage for the diploma presentation and scholarship awards. The senior and their family would then leave the campus.
The parade, which will replace the traditional baccalaureate ceremony, will start at 4 p.m. June 7. Law enforcement will escort the seniors’ vehicles from the school on Route 131 to Route 90, Route 1, and finally to the MVHS campus on Manktown Road.
Each senior and their family may have one vehicle in the parade. Organizers ask other celebrants to park along the route and stay in their vehicles to watch the parade.
Only parade vehicles may drive onto the MVHS campus, where school staff will line the driveway in their vehicles. The parade will make a loop around the driveway, then the parade will be complete and participants will disperse. Participants must remain in their vehicles throughout for health and safety reasons, according to Pease’s email.
The school asks any family in need of a vehicle for the parade to contact the front office.
On May 7, the RSU 40 Board of Directors adopted amended graduation requirements for the MVHS Class of 2020. The new requirements are in line with state standards for a high school diploma, according to Pease.
The new requirements state that graduates must complete four years of English; two years each of history and math; two years of science, including one year of laboratory; and one year of fine arts.
RSU 40 Assistant Superintendent Christina Wotton discussed the district’s current grading practices with the board.
“We are focusing on doing no harm to students during the shutdown,” Wotton said. She said the new graduation requirements are in line with this policy.
Wotton said she is working with the Maine Curriculum Leaders Association to develop grading and evaluation standards for returning students when in-class instruction resumes. Emphasis will be placed on students’ emotional health.