Covid-19 leaves seniors, planning committee, all involved, confused about graduation

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Photo courtesy Macy Fewell

2020 senior class Secretary Macy Fewell speaks at last year’s virtual graduation.

Graduation is one of the most time-honored rituals in high school. It is something every high school student looks forward to and a memorable event for all. It is the time when four years of high school end, and the next part of your life begins. It is also the last school event where a senior class is together.

In years past, seniors attended a ceremony at DAR Constitution Hall. The event was ushered by Patriot Ambassadors, and also included a guest speaker like Class of 2012 alumni Haley Skarupa. Festivities have also included a speech given by the principal, as well as the class president. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has altered graduation planning.

Last year, there was a virtual graduation to commemorate the Class of 2020 after the pandemic canceled any in-person festivities. This year, there are a few options for the graduation ceremonies regarding the Class of 2021. Plan A is to have a regular graduation at DAR, UMBC, St Mary’s or our building with full or limited attendance based on health metrics. The deadline to push ahead with Plan A is April 15.

Plan B consists of two options. Option one of Part B would have all schools graduate from their outdoor stadiums. Option two of Part B would have schools use Gaithersburg High School as a graduation site if their stadium is unable to accommodate a graduation. The deadline to move ahead with Plan B is April 30.

There is also Plan C, a virtual graduation, possibly resembling the one last year. This year’s graduation will still have caps, gowns, and tassels for the seniors. Schools are supposed to be preparing for this plan throughout the semester. Currently, there is a tentative graduation date of Thursday June 3, at 2:30 p.m. The above information was released in a email to parents and students a few days ago.

Many different people are involved in planning graduation. One part of the team for planning graduation is senior administrator Jane Cocker. “I am part of a team that includes Ms. Rice, who is our graduation coordinator, as well as Ms. Roberts and Mr. Schwartz, who are the class sponsors,” Cocker said.

When considering what graduation looks like, the health metrics are important as well. “MCPS follows CDC protocols and will provide guidance on this as we move forward,” Cocker said.

MCPS follows CDC protocols and will provide guidance on this as we move forward”

— Jane Cocker, senior administrator

Graduation always leaves us with sentimental feelings. “This class will always be special to me as we have been together since freshman year. Watching everyone grow and develop into young adults, being with you through all the good times and bad, sharing our hopes and dreams together has been one of the greatest privileges of my teaching career,” Cocker said.

Another part of planning graduation involves Senior Planning. “Senior Planning typically works with our graduation coordinator, Mrs. Rice, and Ms. Boldon and administration to help solidify the logistics of graduation every year,” co-class sponsor Keith Schwartz said.

Schwartz has sentimental feelings about the day as well. “I’m excited to be involved this year after working so closely with the Class of 2021 for the past four years. I’m excited for all of them to reach this milestone and look forward to helping make it a day for them to remember,” Schwartz said.