GHS Headmaster Announces Drive-through Graduation for Class of 2020

UPDATE: This story has been updated to include additional details about the logistics of the June 9 graduation.

Original story: On Monday morning GHS headmaster Ralph Mayo sent families of the class of 2020 an announcement about plans for a drive-through graduation on June 9, followed by an evening virtual ceremony at 7:00pm.

Mayo explained that given Governor Ned Lamont’s executive order is still in place and is very clear about social distancing requirements, and limits gatherings to no more than five people, the June 9 graduation event will enable families to drive their student to the high school where they will walk across one of two stages – one outside the PAC main entrance and one in the front circle of the school.

There will be three ceremonies, each utilizing the two stages, at 9:00am, 12:00 and 3:00pm.

Only the graduate and the house administrator will be on the stage at the same time. The stage is 16′ x 16.’ The administrator will place the diploma cover on a table and the graduate will pick it up from the table. The students will not shake anyone’s hand.

While each student walks across their designated stage, their family will wait in a running car (limousines, buses, trailers, etc are prohibited) with the student’s name displayed on a card hanging on the rear view mirror for police and security to see throughout the ceremony.

After the student has walked across the stage, he or she will be allowed to remove their mask to be photographed. Lastly they will get back in the family car, proceed out of the lot and head toward Fairfield Road.

Mayo’s announcement may not come as a surprise.

Two weeks ago, during a BOE meeting on Zoom, Mr. Mayo said a preferred plan would be to put each student plus two parents in the stadium, but that he was “doubtful” that would happen. “I’m very scared about doing anything live in the stadium with 150 students and their families,” Mr. Mayo said at the BOE meeting.

In his letter to families of seniors on Monday, Mayo wrote that in addition to consulting the Greenwich Health Dept and following the Governor’s executive order, he had consulted the GHS PTA and the Executive Board of Student Government.

“Just last week we told the students that we would do one last check with the Department of Health, and after doing so, it was clear that the gathering size alone limits our options significantly,” he wrote.

Further, he said he had been asked why the PTA did had not surveyed seniors. “Please know that our options are guided by health and safety, and planning was driven by what we are allowed to do,” he explained.

He said the request of student government was that any ceremony take place at the high school.

Mayo said the efforts are also being coordinated with Greenwich Police, and noted graduating 700 students with such limited options will take a full day.

The logistics for the ceremony are detailed, and there will be a practice run for the traffic pattern on June 5, the day students are invited to pick up pick up their cap, gown and tassel, plus pre-ordered yearbook, name card, car pass for the event and a “Time Capsule Card” to fill out.

Each graduating senior will arrive in a car with his/her family and must sit on the right side of the car.

Cars will arrive via Hillside Rd from East Putnam Ave, and proceed  around the black box theater to the rear of the school where there will be directions to the stages.

Only the student is allowed out of the car and must wear a face mask.

When it is time for the student to walk across the stage, their family car will be right in front of the stage and guests must remain in the cars.

In fact, directions explicitly say no one may sit out of the car window, on the roof of the car, or have their head out of a sunroof. Nor may anyone sit in the back of a pick-up truck.

A professional photographer to take a photo of each graduate to be purchased online.

After graduating the senior returns to the family vehicle, which will exit toward Fairfield Rd.

The in-person ceremonies will be live streamed separately by House, by Local Live.

At 7:00 pm the night of graduation, a link will be sent out for the virtual graduation ceremony.

This portion of the graduation will include speeches from various people as well as music from both the band and Chamber singers.

This is when the graduates will receive the conferring of diplomas and turn their tassels.

“While this event will look different than other years, we still share the same amount of pride and excitement in celebrating our graduating class,” Mayo said in his letter.