Hot Topics     Home and Family     K-12     Education Guide    

How some graduation ceremonies for our Hudson Valley 2020 high school seniors may happen



School officials struggle to make the event memorable

COVID-19, graduation, high schools, seniors, graduates, plans

There will be no crossing the stage, no collective tossing of the mortarboards, and no congratulatory hugs or tearful farewells shared with classmates. 

It’s every senior’s dream, to parade past their friends, and family as they are handed the coveted high school diploma. However, according to the Daily Freeman, “For the high school Class of 2020, graduation will be nothing like the student could have imagined. There will be no crossing the stage, no collective tossing of the mortarboards, and no congratulatory hugs or tearful farewells shared with classmates.” 

In this season of Covid-19, there will be no large gatherings. 

Only social distancing.

Here are how five local school districts are trying to make graduation memorable: 

Kingston High School Principal Vince DeCiccio said the school will have some sort of virtual ceremony on Friday, June 26, when the graduation ceremony was to be held at Dietz Stadium. And the school is holding out hope that restrictions on gatherings will continue to be lifted and the high school will be able to host a traditional commencement ceremony later in the summer. DeCiccio said an August ceremony was the preferred choice of students and parents who responded to a school survey. "The response was overwhelming that the students wanted to put it off until August," DeCicco said. "Hopefully, by then, we can put together a traditional graduation. "We want to do some sort of stage-crossing event in August," he said.

Onteora High School, according to their website, is planning a "modified" commencement ceremony on Thursday, June 25, that will include a brief ceremony to be broadcast on WDST-FM 100.1 and a vehicle caravan of students along the 43 miles of roads in the district.  

The Rondout Valley Central School District announced on its website plans for a two-part graduation ceremony that will take place June 26. The first part of the event will be a video tribute to and by the high school seniors. The second part will be a caravan and drive-through diploma procession on the main roads of the district. Rondout Valley High School Principal Jessica Torok said in an online post that the format was decided upon after surveying the 137 seniors and their families. Torok said some respondents suggested postponing the graduation entirely until August, but that idea was rejected out of concern over how long the COVID-related restrictions might remain in place and that many of the graduating seniors already will have left for college, the military or other obligations. 

Red Hook High School is still "exploring all the options," including holding the commencement ceremony at the Hyde Park Drive-In, according to an email to students from district Superintendent Paul Finch. "Personally, I'd like nothing more than to allow each graduate, with his or her parent or guardian, to be given a set location on our lawn ... and we carry on largely as in the past without any physical contact, and without extended family," Finch wrote.  

Rhinebeck High School Principal Ed Davenport said that based on guidance received from Dutchess County, the school is looking at some sort of "in-vehicle procession" for its 81 seniors, but that plans still are being finalized. In remarks livestreamed on Facebook on Friday, Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro said that, based on guidance from the state, schools are allowed to have "drive-through" graduations in parking lots or at drive-in theaters if participants remain in their vehicles. Molinaro said up to 10 officials are allowed to be outside in order to "orchestrate the event," and that diplomas can be handed to students through car windows. 


Other articles by HVP News Reporters


  • Hudson Valley Section of the NYS Birding Trail is Live!

    World-class birding opportunities across the state

    Birding is a fun activity that everyone can enjoy! From Montauk to Buffalo, New York is home to a vast array of amazing habitat that supports over 450 different bird species. Birding, or birdwatching, is one of the fastest growing outdoor recreational activities that can be enjoyed by all ages and experiences, plus it's a great way to get outdoors. read more »
  • Historic Hudson Valley Landmarks Reopen to Visitors

    Philipsburg Manor, Washington Irving’s Sunnyside, Union Church, and Kykuit open in May

    Historic Hudson Valley will welcome the public to Philipsburg Manor, Washington Irving’s Sunnyside, and Union Church beginning Friday, May 6; and Kykuit, the Rockefeller estate, beginning on Saturday, May 21. Visitors will be able to tour all four of these National Historic Landmarks through November. read more »
  • The dangers of using your pet's name as a password

    Aura research finds families vulnerable online

    Aura, the leader in intelligent safety for consumers, today introduced a public safety awareness campaign encouraging families to bolster their online safety habits. Marking the start of National Pet Month and World Password Day on May 5, Aura has released new data that found more than one-third (39%) of American pet parents have used their pet's name as part of their password for an online account. read more »
  • Strengthening support for new mothers

    2 companies provide research-based solutions benefiting the parenting journey

    Medela, the most trusted breast pump brand*, has announced a partnership with Expectful, a holistic maternal health platform for fertility, pregnancy, and motherhood, to offer breastfeeding and pumping education and discounted access to wellness support to new moms. The two brands share a commitment to improving the motherhood experience through research-backed products that can be trusted to truly make a difference. read more »
  • Poor oral health can cause serious medical conditions

    New Delta Dental report finds many are unaware of this connection

    Delta Dental released the 2022 State of America's Oral Health and Wellness Report, a nationwide analysis of consumer opinions and behaviors relating to oral health. Findings from the Delta Dental-commissioned research of U.S. adults and parents of children ages 12 and younger illuminate what they thought about their oral health and what they did to properly care for it at home and with their dentist during 2021. read more »
  • Memorial Day crafts for kids

    Teach your kids about this special holiday while you make something special

    The national holiday was established to honor those who have died in American wars. Memorial Day was originally called Decoration Day. It originated during the American Civil War, when citizens would place flowers on the graves of those who had been killed in battle. read more »
  • Parents experiencing frustration over the national baby formula shortage

    NYS Division of Consumer Protection Offers Guidance

    New Yorkers need to be aware of unscrupulous practices from individuals who are using the baby formula shortages to scam desperate parents. These scams are typically rooted in online sales, and private sellers who are marketing cans for double the price knowing that big retailers have empty shelves and little information about when they may receive the next shipment. read more »
  • Leave young wildlife in the wild

    Human interactions do more harm than good to wild animals

    New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos is reminding New Yorkers to appreciate wildlife from a distance and resist the urge to pick up newborn fawns and other young wildlife. read more »
  • Putting motherhood on your resume

    New campaign to address growing female recession

    Motherhood is a training ground for leadership. The loss of working mothers from the paid workforce makes the U.S. economy less competitive and families less prosperous, leading to worse outcomes for households over the long term. That's why HeyMama, the nation's largest and fastest-growing online community of entrepreneurial and working moms, is bringing back its Motherhood on the Resume® initiative, which urges moms to add "mother" to their resumes to underscore the value mothers bring to organizations and the workforce. read more »
  • Top toy picks for spring & summer '22

    New list from the Toy Association & Clamour

    As kids and families gear up for a fun-filled summer of play, the "Best of Spring & Summer 2022 Influencer Choice List," presented by The Toy Association and powered by Clamour, today unveiled the hottest toys and games as voted on by top-tier toy and family content creators. Consumers can shop the list for toy ideas that will keep kids engaged all summer long – from playthings perfect for backyard fun to creative toys and games for rainy days. read more »