On Tuesday, June 09, 2020, extremely disappointing news was delivered to the Shawsheen Tech senior class and families. After months of planning, countless meetings and several surveys conducted, the administration decided to create a graduation ceremony that does not support the graduates’ wishes.
With the COVID-19 pandemic taking so much away from this year’s senior classes across the country, Shawsheen’s Class of 2020 was hoping that the school would fight to give them the send-off they deserved after four years of hard work. When the administration of the school sent out a survey asking students how they would like their graduation ceremony to go, granted the current social distancing protocols were followed, the majority of students voted to have an in-person graduation ceremony on the football field, even if the student body was divided into sections to ensure that protocols were followed.
It is due to this survey being sent out, that the seniors believed that their thoughts and opinions would be heard and taken into consideration when making the decision about the style of graduation. Of the different options given to the seniors to choose how they would prefer their graduation look, not one of the solutions involved a 30 minute time period in which students were allowed to exit their vehicles to receive their diploma and then promptly leave the parking lot with no time to celebrate or take pictures afterwards.
The school is also only allowing one car per senior, so students with divorced parents will have to choose which of their parents gets to see them briefly walk across the stage to get their diploma. Many other schools in our neighborhood have found ways to properly celebrate their seniors while following safety guidelines. This includes Wilmington High School having a drive through ceremony with the ability to take pictures and celebrate on the Wilmington Town Common afterwards and Billerica Memorial High School celebrating, “over three days, each graduate is a part of a small group, with their family members limited to four each.”
Although we recognize the difficulty in the decision of how to properly and safely celebrate this year’s graduating class, there must be a better solution than this, and by writing this, we hope that the Shawsheen Tech administration considers an alternative that keeps the Class of 2020’s interests in mind.
Below is a list of statements from Shawsheen students and community members voicing their concerns over this decision.
- “they asked all of the seniors how we would want our graduation and I can tell you this is not what we picked!”
- “Speaking on behalf of many angry seniors, we are lost and confused on how the towns can allow protests with hundreds of people, Market Basket and many other stores to be open and running with social distance rules in place, yet 25 seniors can’t be socially distanced on a field for a normal graduation ceremony they have worked 4 years for
- “it’s not fair that we can’t see anyone else graduate from any other shops, like we can’t watch any of our friends graduate or even take pictures on the field after.”
- “I feel like we have been through enough let downs because of the virus. They should just let us have this one thing. We need closure on high school, we can’t have closure from the backseat of our parents’ car getting our diplomas. We need a ceremony.”
- “I appreciate the time and efforts of the guidance department and staff for all they have done for the Seniors – I guess that’s why I’m shocked that this is what the Administration has come up with for our graduating Seniors. Sorry, but Billerica High and other High Schools were able to have students seated on the football field and have somewhat of a semblance of a graduation. It would have taken extra time and effort for sure, but I for one would have gladly volunteered to help set up, disinfect, etc…as well as had my temp taken and passed a health screening to do so. So much has been taken from this class. This is beyond disappointing.”
- “So BMHS resides in same town and they are afforded a viable option but the Tech is not? Wow!!!! So disappointed in this decision! The class advisors did an awesome job of celebrating these seniors under very strenuous circumstances and seems the administration just “settled” on them! I agree that kids learn by example and we need to support, but this does not seem like it was well thought out with the interest of the students in mind at all. My daughter is devastated……and I personally feel she has a right to be! I may not have always agreed with decisions, but have always supported the Tech through 3 kids and another accepted. I vehemently oppose this decision.”
- “As a teacher in town who has attended BMHS graduations, I am very upset as a parent to see my daughter and her friends graduate this way. I am hoping that the Tech will consider using the field and follow what others towns have done”
- “I think the issue is that this was not on the survey. The survey was do we have a virtual graduation with all kids attending in the parents watch from home or do we have a graduation by shop on the lawn with two parents able to come. It was never a car base graduation. There is nothing that says that we should not be able to have the graduation on the lawn if we do it by shop. That is how the high school was able to do it asking the director of Public Health and that’s how we should be able to do it.”
- “This is very sad! Bad enough the Seniors lost their last games to play (daughter was looking forward to being a Captain this year! ) , lost prom, lost overnight party, lost the last few months of being together and enjoying the last fun final days of High School. Lost sign out day etc etc. None of this can be given back either! I am also upset that there was suppose to be a better plan for prom. Burlington is having their prom still. To not give these Seniors a Graduation Ceremony that they deserve is beyond Heartbreaking. It is something that can be done and should be done. Really hoping that this is all reconsidered.”
Chris Cook Jr.
Kayla Caulfield (Class of 2018)
And many more…
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