Falmouth High School’s graduating seniors, their families, and school administrators have decided to postpone the high school’s graduation to Saturday, July 25.
When it became clear that a traditional graduation ceremony at the school’s field house on June 6 would not be possible, Principal Mary W. Gans and her team sent an email to graduating seniors and their families asking for alternative graduation ideas.
That survey yielded four top choices, which Ms. Gans shared in a second email to students and families, asking them to take a vote on the options they liked best.
The first option was to hold a completely virtual ceremony with caps and gowns mailed to students so that they can take and share individual photos. The virtual ceremony would include prerecorded speeches and as much “pomp and circumstance” as possible, Ms. Gans said.
The second option was to invite each graduating senior with up to four family members to the field house for a scheduled 15-minute block to film the handing-out of diplomas and the cap toss. Ryan P. Webber, a video production teacher, the town’s educational access television coordinator and the Falmouth Public Schools webmaster, would incorporate all the videos into a single virtual ceremony video.
“It would take six to seven full days to do this with about 200 graduates, so it would take significant time and effort, but we’re willing to do it if that’s what the seniors want,” Ms. Gans said.
The third option was to invite graduating seniors in groups of up to 10 onto the main high school field and do a similar video with the students receiving diplomas and tossing caps while maintaining social distance.
The fourth option was to host an in-person graduation ceremony in the field house later in the summer when it is determined safe to do so.
Ms. Gans reported to the school committee on Tuesday, May 12, that the consensus of the high school’s seniors and their parents was to postpone the graduation ceremony until the summer, out of a “desire and hope for a live ceremony.”
Ms. Gans met with senior class officials to choose a date. They decided to avoid August because some seniors could be on their way to other places by then. Getting as far into the summer as possible while avoiding August, they chose July 25. The school committee approved the new date unanimously.
“We know there is the likelihood that there will be restrictions in place,” Ms. Gans said. “The governor will announce his plan for re-opening the state on May 18, and we will have to abide by that. But we will be innovative and creative.”
“Everyone understands that we are living in uncertain times and we will have to base the graduation plans on Governor Baker’s and the health department’s summer guidance and advisories,” Dr. Duerr cautioned in an email last week.
School committee member Andrea Thorrold thanked Ms. Gans for her clear communication to high school seniors and their parents.
Vice chairwoman Kelly Welch thanked Ms. Gans for making clear that everyone needs to “moderate their hope” for a live graduation.
Committee member John Furnari complimented Ms. Gans for addressing the difficult issues, and for being a “steady force” for the high school.
Committee member Melissa Keefe expressed gratitude for the input from the seniors, and said she was “proud of their maturity.” “They have missed out on so much, and it’s not fair,” she said. “I am proud of them for understanding the position the school committee is in.”
Committee chairman William Rider said of the rescheduled live graduation, “I would love for these seniors to have that opportunity.”