Update 5:00pm: During CT Governor Ned Lamont’s press conference on April 27, a reporter asked him if he had a response to the “volunteer run graduation ceremony on the same day across the state.”
Lamont responded, “We don’t allow mass gatherings, but it seems like an interesting idea. I hadn’t heard about it. You described something that might be an ingenious way to allow some young people to have a nice end to their senior year of high school, so let me think about that.”
Original story: Hundreds of high school seniors’ parents from across Connecticut are joining in hope that Governor Lamont might approve a shared graduation date for high schools across the state on June 22.
The group provided press contacts across the state. In Greenwich, GHS parent Lisa Bologna is part of the effort.
“It grew out of conversation on social media among parents who all have seniors,” she explained on Monday. “We started connecting with each other because we were watching our seniors lose one thing after another after another. We found each other primarily through Facebook. A new Facebook group on Sunday grew to 90 members in a couple hours.”
By Monday afternoon the group had grown to 500.
Bologna said she embraced the idea of a shared statewide graduation date the week of June 22 because it would make a statement to have all our schools graduate on the same night.
“What we’re going through is history in the making, so why not try to make a positive out of it by having everybody graduate together as a state,” she said. “We’re all in this together. We’re trying to make this special for the seniors: one class and one graduation the entire state.”
“It’s what every school would likely be doing for themselves anyway,” she said. “This makes it uniform and easy to follow.”
In Greenwich, the town continues to pay a rental fee over $6,000 a month for the bleacher scaffolding in partly in hope that there might be a graduation.
The bleachers were condemned last April and the class of 2019 graduated with parents seated in chairs on the field.
Last week the Board of Selectmen approved an MI for phase one of the Cardinal Stadium project, which includes new bleachers. Architect Russ Davidson said it would be a reasonable expectation for a September completion date.
The group of parents say they represent 41,014 graduating high school seniors. Their are calling their proposal, “One Class, One Graduation, One Playbook,” which would be a volunteer-run ceremony at each high school athletic field.
They developed a set of proposed guidelines that would allow for social distancing throughout the entirety of each graduation ceremony.
“We are confident that each town has the ability and facilities to hold this event,” the organizers said in a press release on Monday, adding that graduation can be both safe and memorable.
“High school graduation is one of the cornerstones of American culture, and a milestone that every student looks forward to their entire academic career,” said Phil Landino, one of the parents proposing the idea. “It is our hope that Governor Lamont will recognize the significance of these celebrations and allow the parents to provide a safe, healthy and happy graduation ceremony, together and in person for our seniors.”
The group has offered this “Play Book”:
• Where – Outdoors Only – football field, athletic field, large municipal space
• When – Week of June 22 – starting on Monday with each consecutive day as rain date. Or, a Monday in July chosen by Governor Lamont.
• Who – Every Graduating Senior with 2 Guests, teachers and faculty, Board of Education and their distinguished guests
• All attendees required to wear a mask – if they don’t come with one, one will be provided
• All attendees will be provided with hand sanitizer at the entry gates
• All entry gates to be staffed with body temperature check points
• All entry points and seating for attendees and graduates will be arranged for appropriate and required social distancing in all directions.
• Multiple points of entry and exit
• Police presence to help orderly entrance/exit
• Each town required to LiveStream the ceremony for family members and staff/admin not able to attend
• Create a registration whereby all parents and Graduates agree to maintain social distancing through the entirety of the event. Those graduates who do not register and agree to the rules, will not be allowed to participate
• No live band music. Recorded band participation encouraged
• All rehearsals to be done virtually, in advance. No on-site rehearsal
• Restroom (monitor) staffed with professional cleaning contractor for sanitizing throughout the event
• No food or beverage other than bottled water allowed
• Parent/guardian participation would be encouraged
• All individual graduation ceremonies beyond the above guidelines are planned by their respective communities.