One hundred and twenty seniors at Medomak Valley High School in Waldoboro crossed a makeshift stage Wednesday, June 10 to receive diplomas as their families applauded from inside cars in the student parking lot.
The graduation took place in six parts. Members of the class of 2020 could opt for a time slot at 9 a.m., 11 a.m., 1 p.m., 3 p.m., 5 p.m., or 7 p.m. During each ceremony, MVHS Principal Linda Pease delivered a short address to the assembled cars, congratulating the graduates and directing students to approach the stage with up to four family members or friends after their names were called.
Though she lost her voice from announcing all 120 names, Pease was pleased with the outcome.
“The day went fantastically well from our point of view,” Pease said. “It was a joyous celebration, and we did the best we could.”
Students and families posed for a photo on stage after accepting a diploma from a contact-free pickup position on stage before proceeding back to their cars. Students also received a gift of a monogrammed towel, two gift cards, and a cookie from Project Graduation, a group of parents who raise money for and coordinate graduation gifts every year.
All of the ceremonies were livestreamed. A video of the ceremonies; speeches by faculty, the valedictorian and salutatorian, and the president of student council; and a rendition of the national anthem by students will be posted on the school’s Facebook page and the RSU 40 website in coming days. Pease said the video will be “just like a regular graduation.”
Pease reported an overall positive response from students, families, and community members about the decision to hold a drive-in graduation, but sympathized with students’ disappointment over the unusual circumstances of their final year.
“There has been a lot of grief for the things they have lost,” Pease said. “They lost their prom; they lost their class trip. Those were certainly big losses.”
Salutatorian Serena Blasius, in her speech, asked her classmates to remember high school by the moments they did experience together rather than the springtime traditions they did not.
“Those things, while enjoyable, are not the true reward,” Blasius said. “The knowledge you’ve gained, the friendships you’ve forged, and the moments of laughter between and perhaps during classes are what make high school memorable.”
Similarly, valedictorian Sadie Cohen took an optimistic, even rousing tone in her speech.
“We are living through one of the worst crises in the history of humankind, but together we will get through this and we will emerge stronger than ever before,” she said.