Ending quite a remarkable senior year, the West Haven High School Class of 2020 will complete its scholastic career with the first-even drive-through graduation ceremony. A virtual commencement was conducted two weeks ago, but a method of handing out diplomas to the seniors was important to school and city officials.
The two-night ceremony, set for Monday and Tuesday, will have the graduates and families queue in a caravan of vehicles, with each graduate receiving a diploma. Plans were completed Monday.
The ceremony will follow the following outline:
A stage will be set up in the student parking lot at the high school. Beginning at the Savin Rock Conference Center, graduates and their families will organize in groups of 30. The first group will ride in procession to the parking lot and park in front of the stage. Student will get out of the car. Their name will be called, and they will walk across the stage in cap and gown and receive a diploma. A photographer will take their picture. While the first 30 are parked, the second group will be waiting along Educational Way. Once the first group exits through Kelsey Avenue, the second group will pull into the parking lot. The process will continue until the entire group receives its diplomas.
According to Principal Dana Parades, there is only one change that has been made to the format.
“The only change is to allow parents to exit their vehicle and stand in a designated spot to allow for social distancing,” she said.
As of press time, 361 of the 381 graduates have signed up for the event. Signs will be posted along with way, compliments of Gilbane Construction, which is working on the high school rebuild, the school’s Parent-Teacher-Student Association, Board of Education and the Building Oversight Committee.
“Though this is not the ceremony any of hoped for, we hope to make the event special and memorable for our seniors,” Parades said.
Mayor Nancy Rossi had a special thank-you to the seniors, and commended them for their understanding during this unique situation.
“Our graduating seniors have faced a world-wide pandemic and situations that none of us could have ever imagined. They persevered and made the very best out of a situation that was both difficult and disappointing on many levels including not being able to attend classes, away from friends, no organized school sports and of course the lack of a traditional graduation,” she said. “Our seniors have handled the conditions as well as anyone could have expected and for that I am proud of each and every one of them.”
She had words of thanks for the parents and others who were in charge.
“I would also like to thank the parents, teachers, administrators and the Board of Education for quickly implementing a virtual education platform and for the efforts to make the year as normal as possible under these unforeseen and uncertain circumstances. We look forward to the rest of the graduating events coming up and sending our seniors off to college, trade schools and work and look forward to the accomplishments and successes they will experience in the future,” she said.