Graduation back at DAR Constitution Hall with mask requirement

After+the+pandemic+prevented+Woottons+previous+two+graduating+classes+from+holding+their+graduation+ceremony+at+DAR+Constitution+Hall%2C+the+Class+of+2022+will+have+the+opportunity+to+do+so+with+a+few+caveats.

Photo used with permission from Google Commons

After the pandemic prevented Wootton’s previous two graduating classes from holding their graduation ceremony at DAR Constitution Hall, the Class of 2022 will have the opportunity to do so with a few caveats.

Senioritis is spreading, the countdown to seniors’ last day of school is back in the parking lot window, prom is coming up and graduation is sneaking up on us. After the pandemic prevented the previous two graduating seniors from a graduation ceremony at the DAR Constitution Hall, graduation will be back there on June 14, with some COVID guidelines to follow.

I had a conversation with my parents and my twin brother about it, and it was clear what choice we had to make. Constitution Hall was clearly the better choice because of its history and environment. It was the more iconic choice.”

— Samir Mitri

The decision to hold this year’s graduation ceremony at DAR Constitution Hall as opposed to the school’s stadium, as it was last year, was determined by a survey sent out by administration at the beginning of the school year that gave parents and students the option to choose one or the other. Seniors like Samir Mitri exuberantly voted for the option to hold graduation at Constitution Hall when he was given the opportunity to do so. “I had a conversation with my parents and my twin brother about it, and it was clear what choice we had to make. Constitution Hall was clearly the better choice because of its history and environment. It was the more iconic choice,” Mitri said. 

His twin brother, senior Thomas Mitri, felt similarly. “Holding graduation at Constitution Hall is a good tradition that our school has had. At first I thought it might be more convenient to hold graduation at our own school’s stadium, but celebrating a once-in-a-lifetime event should not be dependent on convenience,” Mitri said.

When graduation was scheduled by administrators in late 2021, Constitution Hall was following DC’s COVID guidelines. At the time in December 2021, the rapid spread of the Omicron variant prompted DC officials to not only require businesses to enforce mask wearing in indoor spaces but also enforce that individuals show proof of vaccination to enter certain indoor spaces, including DAR Constitution Hall. “This was a policy that was decided by DC officials and DAR Constitution Hall. MCPS never ordered a vaccination mandate,” Assistant Principal and 12th grade administrator Joe Mamana said.

However, by mid-February, COVID cases were falling just as rapidly as they had risen from the Omicron wave. This prompted DC officials to call off the indoor mask mandate and vaccination requirements by Mar. 1. DAR Constitution Hall subsequently lifted their vaccination requirements, although a vaccine requirement can be enforced by an event sponsor. As mentioned, however, neither MCPS nor the school currently has any vaccine requirement to attend graduation. 

Constitution Hall also opted to keep their indoor mask requirements, according to an update provided from their website on Feb. 15. Thomas Mitri did not agree with the mask requirement for Constitution Hall, but believes that it is still better than the alternative of holding graduation at our school. “I am fully vaccinated, and know many more people who are fully vaccinated as opposed to not, which is why I believe that the choice to mask should ultimately lie on the individual. I can understand why they are keeping the mask mandate, however, and I don’t see it as something that will ruin my farewell from high school,” Mitri said.