As we approach May, it is critical to contemplate adjustments that will most likely need to be made to our commencement ceremony in June. To that end, we would like your feedback in regard to the various options that may be necessary and available to us.
Our first choice, which is not likely possible, is to hold traditional graduation at Proctors Theatre, the same as has been done in recent tradition. Current guidance prohibits any gatherings of any size, and possible future guidance limit proximity (social distancing). We also don’t know whether Proctors will be permitted to be open.
As such, we have begun to brainstorm other options:
A virtual ceremony
This option would include pre-recorded speeches, and a voice-over reading all senior names coordinated with student photographs. This could be aired via social media as well as a local television broadcast. This option removes the personal aspect of graduation but it does allow for parents and guardians to share it with friends and family.
In-person gatherings are not yet permitted by NYS. We would schedule each senior for a particular day/time to arrive at the field with parent(s) only. The student’s name would be read via PA and the student and parent would walk across the field, collect the diploma, and pause for a photograph that would be made available to the family. This could possibly include limited spectators, depending on state guidance. This could be preceded or followed by a video with graduation speeches. This could also be an add-on to any other option. For instance, a drive-in ceremony could be coupled with a football field walkthrough on the days following. A change to NYS guidance may allow for all graduates to be physically present, wearing masks, and socially distant. In this case, graduation speeches could potentially be live. We would need to stagger arrival and dismissal times, and in-person spectators would be limited. We would attempt to accommodate as many spectators as possible by using all bleachers and available space for folding chairs.
Speeches would be given live, in-person, and displayed via the movie screen. If permitted by New York state, graduates would “walk” and receive their diplomas, following social distancing protocols. Each graduate would be viewed on the movie screen via live video so that everyone could see from their vehicles. This option allows us to be in person, and also allows for many spectators as the theater can accommodate approximately 425 vehicles. The ceremony would start at 9:15 p.m. so that it would be dark enough for the screen to be seen from cars. This option requires the theater to be permitted to be open for this purpose.