The St. Michael’s College gym will be a little less blue, silver and black this June as the South Burlington High School graduation takes a new form.

On Friday, May 8, the Vermont Agency of Education announced that school districts should “expect that larger group gatherings will not be permitted prior to the end of the school year.”

Current state guidance allows group gatherings of 10 people or fewer. The Agency of Education has asked districts to follow that guidance for any in-person, end-of-year events. The Agency said that all year-end gatherings and graduations should be equally accessible for all affected students.

“It can’t say that that was surprising, I mean it was certainly disappointing,” said High School Principal Patrick Burke, clarifying the disappointment wasn’t in the governor’s decision but for seniors who won’t have a traditional graduation.

The district has been preparing for all possibilities including the cancellation of an in-person graduation. More than 85% of surveyed seniors expressed a preference for an in-person ceremony, even if it had to be later than the originally scheduled June 12 date, Burke said.

But, he added, the district feels the need to hold some sort of event this spring.

“It appears we’re heading in the direction of something virtual on June 12 with an in-person ceremony at a later date,” Burke said. “But that’s going to depend on forces beyond our control.”

Burke said the district had put down a $1,000 deposit to rent the gym at St. Michael’s College for the June 12 graduation. He said the district is looking into whether it can recoup those funds, following the governor’s new guidelines for graduation.

While South Burlington High School hasn’t named a valedictorian or salutatorian in about 20 years, Burke said it does name students with Latin Honors. Those titles are normally noted in the graduation program. He said the district is working on creating a program, in some form, for this year’s graduation seniors.

The Student Government was set to meet with Burke on Wednesday, May 13, to discuss next steps for graduation.

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