Unconventional graduation

In this unconventional graduation season, people are finding ways to congratulate their seniors.

In the past, high school graduations were noisy, celebratory affairs, with music and cheering and lots of hugs.

Not this year.

Because of the pandemic, diplomas will still be handed to graduates at Peoples Academy and Lamoille Union High School — but one at a time, with one carload of family and friends per graduate.

Peoples graduates will collect their diplomas in curbside-pickup fashion; speeches and ceremonies will be recorded on video and presented to the public Thursday evening, June 11, followed by a parade through town.

Lamoille Union High School will hold graduation ceremonies Saturday, June 13. One by one, students will walk across the stage to collect their diplomas in another curbside ceremony.

Stowe High School plans an actual in-person graduation — more accurately, an in-car ceremony — in the Mount Mansfield parking lot at Stowe Mountain Resort on Saturday, June 13.

Green Mountain Technical and Career Center will hold a completion ceremony for students taking classes there; the ceremony will be virtual on Tuesday evening, June 9.

Here are the details.

Stowe High School

Superintendent Tracy Wrend said the plan is to host a sort of “drive-in-style” graduation in the Mount Mansfield parking lot at Stowe Mountain Resort on Saturday, June 13. The event starts at 10 a.m.

Wrend said each student will be parked in a separate vehicle and listen to the proceedings in their cars, via Zoom. They are encouraged to decorate their vehicles to stand out in the crowd.

Wrend said attendance is limited to one vehicle per graduate, and the entire event needs to be limited to 300 people, so it will just be graduates and their immediate family.

That means no school board members, Wrend said, to make it “as small as possible and to allow for as much graduate participation” as possible.

Kim Bruno, a Stowe parent, said there are hopes to live-stream the event for people who can’t attend.

Lamoille Union

Lamoille Union High School will hold its graduation ceremony on Saturday, June 13. Each student and a carload of family/friends will drive to a spot near the main entrance to the high school.

Then, one at a time, each student will get out of the car, walk across the stage to get their diplomas, get back in the car, and leave.

Each diploma will be inside a bag to limit direct contact with people.

“The No. 1 request from our kids, when asked, was that they want to actually have the experience of walking across the stage to receive their diploma,” Lamoille Union Principal Brian Schaffer said on Monday. “That was what was most important to them, so we built our program from there.”

At about 10:30 a.m., students with last names beginning with A-G will be asked to line up, with everyone remaining in their vehicles. Students with last names beginning with H-Z will line up at 10:45.

“We’re asking that it’s only one family per car, and only the graduate exits the car,” Schaffer said, although he knows some students have more than one family and the school will try to accommodate those situations.

The school will employ a photographer to capture the special moments, so family members won’t need to get out and take their own pictures.

Schaffer said the recent food giveaway at Lamoille Union, which drew hundreds of cars, provided lessons he and his staff will use for traffic patterns and safety.

“The safety measures dictated to us” by the Vermont Agency of Education “will be followed to a T,” Schaffer said. and local police will be on hand to ensure things stay safe. All school faculty and staff working the event who aren’t in cars will observe proper social distancing and wear masks,

Between 115 and 120 students will walk across the Lamoille Union stage on June 13, Schaffer said. Each student should be out of the car and on stage for only 30 to 60 seconds, so the event shouldn’t take too long.

Schaffer and his staff are trying to make the event as much fun as possible for the seniors. For instance, a DJ will play music selected by each graduate for their individual walk-up moment — “a little bit WWE-style,” Schaffer said. The campus will be decorated and students are being encouraged to deck out their cars, and themselves, to celebrate their day.

“The whole focus is to give the kids the props they deserve,” Schaffer said. The event will be broadcast on Youtube and local radio for those who can’t be in the cars with the graduates or who want to watch again later.

Student speakers Wenzdae Wendling and Jake Randall have already put together video speeches that will be posted to a graduation website, and Schaffer and Superintendent Cat Gallagher have recorded remarks.

Peoples Academy

Peoples Academy will hold a curbside diploma pickup event and a full week of graduation activities that began earlier this week.

School officials asked that the exact time when graduates will pick up their diplomas not be disclosed to prevent a crowd from gathering. A photographer will photograph each student receiving the diploma.

A graduation video will premiere on Thursday, June 11, at 5 p.m., when Peoples would have held its traditional ceremony if not for the pandemic. It features recorded speeches by Eli Smith and Joseph Dewan as the class valedictorian and salutatorian, and by longtime staff member Michele Walker. They’ll be introduced by Lizzie Craig and by marshals Dylan Haskins and Linden Osborne, both juniors. Brianna Reeve will perform the national anthem.

That same night, a graduation parade will start at 6:15 p.m. at the school; cars will drive through Morrisville village and up Route 15 to Route 15A and then back to school. The parade will be livestreamed and links to all events and the video performances will be available next week.

Green Mountain Tech

Completion ceremonies for all students who attended Green Mountain Technology and Career Center this school year will be held Tuesday, June 9, beginning at 6 p.m.

The instructor of each program will host a separate virtual completion ceremony for students in that program. Each ceremony will honor students inducted into the National Technical Honor Society and schoolwide awards Finally, each student who completed the course will be honored.

Family and friends are encouraged to watch the online ceremonies.

“While we recognize that our entire school would prefer to gather in one space to celebrate the accomplishments and successes of our students, given the current restrictions on large group gatherings, we do not see this as feasible at this time,” said Erik Remmers, the director of Green Mountain Tech. “Instead, we hope that you will join with your student’s instructor online in order to honor their accomplishments.”

Updated to clarify that Stowe's "drive-in" graduation will be broadcast for students over Zoom, not their car radios.

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