MASSENA — Graduation is on for the Massena Central School Class of 2020, but it will look different from years gone by.
For starters, it won’t be held as originally scheduled on June 27, and it won’t be held at the Massena Arena, where the ceremony typically takes place.
Principal Sarah Boyce said ceremonies will take place on July 25 at the high school.
Superintendent Patrick Brady said a committee of staff and parents who are organizing various events for seniors met to discuss their graduation options based on information provided by county and state officials.
“They still recommended virtual graduations, but provided some parameters on how we could have in-person graduation,” he said.
The dilemma was that a ceremony could include 150 people under the current restrictions, and the Class of 2020 has 178 students.
“Even with the 150, that threshold’s not even enough for our students,” Mr. Brady said.
That prompted them to move the ceremony to later in July in the hope that the numbers allowed at gatherings would change for the better between now and then.
“We thought if we postpone it, we may have the best opportunity to have more of a traditional graduation. It would still be outside and we might be able to have at least all of our students at that time. If by that time it remains 150 people, then we’ll need to stage the event out over a longer period of time,” he said.
Ms. Boyce said the July graduation addresses one of the priorities listed by students.
“I sent out a survey to the seniors regarding their concerns for a concerns for a ceremony this year. The results of the survey showed that the top priority for a graduation ceremony was to be together one last time as a class to say goodbye. The second priority was to walk across the stage and receive their diploma,” Ms. Boyce said.
Unfortunately, she said, current COVID-19 restrictions only allowed them to address one of the priorities — getting together one last time, unless the restrictions are loosened before July 25.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced earlier this month that high schools across the state could hold limited social distanced graduation ceremonies outdoors starting on June 26.
“With the current restrictions, amended on June 7, 2020, we would only be able to provide them with one of their priorities, not both. Therefore, we decided to delay graduation until July 25 at 7 p.m. here at the high school. We have such a beautiful campus,” Ms. Boyce said.
In case of inclement weather, the ceremony will be moved to July 26.
“It is our hope that more restrictions will ease up and we will be able to bring our seniors together as a class one more time and allow them to walk across the stage and receive their diploma. If the restrictions do not ease up, we will still go ahead with a ceremony on July 25th that follows the guidelines from the DOH (Department of Health),” she said.