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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. 


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