MASSENA — The Massena Central School District’s plan to have all Class of 2020 graduates at one commencement ceremony on Saturday hasn’t panned out because of continued COVID-19 restrictions.
Instead, two ceremonies will be held — Friday evening for all honor students and students whose last name begins with A through G, and Saturday evening for students whose last name begins with H through Z.
School officials said they had hoped that a restriction on the number of individuals who could gather at one location would be lifted, but that didn’t happen.
“Due to Governor (Andrew M.) Cuomo’s Executive Order, outside graduation ceremonies can have no more than 150 people. It was our hope that this order would change in Phase Four, but that did not happen. Therefore, we must stay within the current order, which is no more than 150 people. Since Massena High School will be graduating over 150 seniors, we will need to hold two ceremonies,” they said.
The school will be graduating nearly 180 students.
Both ceremonies will be held at 8:30 p.m. in the back of the school, on the lawn adjacent to the soccer field. The stage will be located in front of the library, with students seated in the open in front of the stage. The ceremonies are being held later in the evening so that everyone will be able to view it on two large screens.
“Because the sunlight does not allow a good projection of the student walking across the stage, we needed to move the ceremony to later in the evening to reduce the sunlight,” school officials said.
Students will pick up their diploma before walking across the stage, where their picture will be taken with their diploma by a professional photographer. Students will exit the stage and return to their seat for the rest of the ceremony.
Family members will be located in vehicles around the outside of the graduation area. They’ll be spaced out six feet apart, with the district’s maintenance crew creating markers on the ground to designate the six feet intervals. Each student will be allowed two vehicles of family and friends, who must remain in their vehicles during the ceremony.
School officials said that by allowing two vehicles, individuals other than family members will be allowed to attend the ceremony.
Vehicles will enter the field from the side of the high school that is parallel with Highland Avenue, and will exit on the side of the high school that runs parallel to state Highway 37. District employees will be on site to provide direction.
All students and district employees who are at the ceremony will be wearing face masks, which will be provided to all graduating seniors. If all individuals in vehicles are family members, they are not required to wear a mask. Any individuals in the vehicles who are not family members must wear masks.
The ceremony will be broadcast on 1340 WMSA radio, so individuals in vehicles will be able to hear it on their vehicle radio. It will also be livestreamed and available on phones and computers through the district’s Facebook page and linked on the district website.
The ceremony typically lasts for about two hours, but will be shorter this year.
“Because the number of students graduating each day has decreased from a full ceremony, the ceremony should take no more than an hour,” school officials said.