MARLBORO (CBS) – This is usually an exciting time for high school seniors as graduation and the future looms before them. But what do you do in the age of the coronavirus? The Marlboro School Department has come up with a unique graduation idea. It lets the young people get their diplomas as their proud families look on. All while keeping a safe distance.
They’re names and pictures are on display on lawn signs outside of Marlborough’s historic Walker Building, the class of 2020. At first, it looked like this would be the extent of the graduation ceremony. But as the state slowly reopens, a plan was hatched.
“The first thing we wanted to bring to the forefront was the safety of all the participants,” said Mike Bergeron, Superintendent of Schools. But high school graduations are usually jam-packed events. “We have a new, beautiful, brand new stadium field behind our middle school,” said Bergeron. A field where there’s plenty of space to social distance, if you hold down the numbers.
“Our plan is to have a series of mini-graduations on June 6th and June 7th,” he says. Ten separate ceremonies with only 20 graduates at a time. Each is allowed to invite up to six family members. They’ll receive their diplomas without the traditional handshake.
“And by doing that we’re still not even exceeding 25 percent of our total capacity in the stadium,” Bergeron said.
“This is a really good situation to be able to combine friends and family,” said Emma Hennessy, a senior at Marlborough High School. She and Harrison Ryan are among the upcoming graduates. They said even a reduced celebration helps during a tough time.
“It means a lot to me to know that they actually care. They do care about their students. They care about what we’re going through,” Ryan said.
“I’m just happy we’re getting a graduation. I know many of my friends around Massachusetts, and even New York, they’re not getting a graduation. So we’re lucky,” Hennessy added.
The Marlborough superintendent said the state hasn’t given the schools specific guidance about graduations, so they’ll stay flexible. They also realize that the graduation plan may not fly if things change between now and the first weekend of June. After graduation, Hennessy is heading to Umass Lowell to study mechanical engineering while Ryan will go to Nichols College for business.