RHS seniors will graduate in three stages
For more than a month now, it’s been clear that Ridgefield High School’s Class of 2020 wouldn’t have a traditional graduation ceremony.
With social distancing measures in place due to the coronavirus, a gathering of nearly 400 students, family members, and RHS staff was not going to happen.
What will take place instead is a three-event ceremony — on three separate days — designed to celebrate the seniors while keeping them and everyone else involved safe.
At Tuesday night’s virtual Board of Education meeting, committee members gave the go-ahead to a graduation plan presented by Dr. Stacey Gross, the Ridgefield High principal. The plan has three components:
A drive-through diploma pick-up on June 12 at the high school, in which seniors will receive swag bags and have an opportunity to take photos, including one with a cardboard cutout of Dr. Gross.
A drive-in movie graduation ceremony — divided by alphabet into two separate sessions with one car per graduate —on June 18 at the high school that includes live projection of speeches, the reading of graduates’ names, and the communal turning of tassels.
A virtual graduation beginning at 4 p.m. on June 19 in which seniors can gather at home with family members while also viewing classmates.
Dr. Gross said the plan resulted from the work of a graduation committee that tried to balance student and parent input while adhering to town and state coronavirus safety guidelines.
“The RHS Graduation Committee, which consists of parents, students, teachers, and administrators, has spent a considerable amount of time researching options for graduation,” wrote Dr. Gross in a letter emailed to seniors and their parents Wednesday morning. “This work consisted of inquiring with other Fairfield County and state schools, studying the Governor’s Executive Order, and participating in webinars.
“Moreover, we thoroughly examined the feedback from the graduation survey of our school community and considered all heartfelt options presented,” Dr. Gross added in the email. “The majority of respondents preferred an in-person celebration but others did express their concerns around safety and family health matters.
“In addition, the Class of 2020 primarily expressed the desire to be together for this important rite of passage, even prioritizing it above individual recognition. I am grateful to the students and parents who have emailed me with a variety of ideas. Please know that we, too, were exploring all of these possibilities but will always err on the side of safety and well-being.”
Dr. Gross said that several other ideas, including an on-site graduation ceremony with seniors socially distanced, were discussed but rejected.
“We are one of the larger high schools in the state, so many ideas that were shared for other high schools that are much smaller or in different states may not necessarily be transferable,” Dr. Gross said at Tuesday night’s meeting. “We have close to 400 graduates this year and that absolutely affects how we can do things and be safe...
“We know that nothing will replace a traditional graduation ceremony, but we take solace in the fact that the three events ... provide a variety of safe ways to honor the Class of 2020, while respecting their primary wish of sharing this celebration with their classmates,” wrote Dr. Gross in her email.