Graduation Possibilities for the Class of 2020

Many EHHS seniors were looking forward to walking across the stage and getting their diploma on June 12, but it has been postponed because of the worldwide pandemic. Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont, has recently announced that school districts in Connecticut are able to hold graduation ceremonies beginning July 6, but only if following safety guidelines.

The class of 2020 will be participating in a non-traditional ceremony due to the restrictions placed on the state from executive orders issued by Governor Lamont to keep everyone safe during this pandemic. Governor Lamont announced that school districts can hold outdoor graduation events starting July 6, 2020, with a capacity of 150 total people, which includes the students.

EHHS administration, the Superintendent, Erica Forti, East Shore District Health Department, and the East Haven Police and Fire Departments are in the process of planning out a ceremony in July. EHHS principal, Mr. Vincent DeNuzzo, explained that they are working on “a fun ceremony that will honor the Class of 2020 for all of their hard work. We are trying to develop a plan where students are together in some capacity and family is also a part of the ceremony.” The EHHS administration is currently trying everything they can to make this graduation memorable for the class of 2020 within the guidelines from the state and East Shore Health District.

In a traditional ceremony at EHHS, around 2,000-2,500 people attend to watch the seniors walk across the stage, but since then we are going through a pandemic a traditional ceremony will not take place this year. So the East Shore Health District and EHPS are considering two basic types of ceremonies to be held sometime in July. Both ceremonies have their benefits and drawbacks.

The first type of ceremony is a drive-up ceremony, where students would have the opportunity to pull into a designated location on the EHHS campus, exit their vehicle, cross a stage to receive their diploma, have a picture taken in front of the school, then exit the property in their vehicle. The benefit of this ceremony is that students are able to have their family by their side in the car, but EHHS students would not have the opportunity to spend their final moment with their classmates because of the limited capacity.

Photo Credit: Airman 1st Class Ireland Summers

The second type of ceremony is a socially-distanced in-person ceremony. Since the class of 2020 has 225 graduates and the limit is 150 per ceremony, the class will have to be divided in half and there will be two graduation ceremonies. In this ceremony, students are able to do speeches and could walk across the stage to receive their diploma. This would be live-streamed and recorded so family and friends could watch the seniors walk across the stage at their homes. The benefit of this ceremony is that students are able to enjoy their final moments of high school together with half of their classmates. The drawback of this ceremony is that students wouldn’t be able to enjoy graduation with their families and friends by their side.

The alternative plans' main goal is to safely and appropriately honor the Class of 2020. EHHS administration has not reached a final decision for which ceremony will take place this July, but they have been listening to the students to aid them in making this decision. In Google Classroom, students can vote which of the two ceremonies they would like to see in July. EHHS administration has also been listening to the class officers: Sam Schlottman, Amy Nieto, Riya Patel, Arianna Zambrano, and Alexis Pendziwater. Alexis, Class of 2020 treasurer, stated, “We [class officers] are helping voice our opinions of each idea while helping Mr. DeNuzzo get an idea of what we [class of 2020] are looking for.” EHHS is working extremely hard organizing this ceremony.

Many EHHS seniors are upset that they wouldn’t be able to have a traditional ceremony with their friends and family, such as Gianna Appi, and she stated, “I’m pretty bummed out that my class won’t be receiving a traditional ceremony like the previous and future classes. This is something I’ve looked forward to since I was a kid in elementary school.” Many are also upset that Jostens wasn’t able to reimburse our cap and gown money back due to their policy that they will only reimburse students if the student does not graduate, meaning the student failed courses and didn’t meet the school’s graduation requirements. The class of 2020 should be looking forward to having a unique graduation this year, and every single student should be proud of their accomplishment. Every single student should be looking forward to their future knowing that EHHS and The Comet are proud.