Graduating high school under COVID-19 restrictions will be an unique experience for local students.
The commencement ceremony at Princeton Secondary School ordinary draws approximately 400 residents, family members and dignitaries.
In 2020, graduation will be “staged,” according district assistant superintendent Jameel Azziz.
About 30 students are set to graduate from PSS this month.
Each graduate will be allowed an audience of eight family members, and about 10 minutes to receive their diploma and any awards, then to pose for socially distanced photos.
“Many of our students have blended families and these are going to be hard decisions to make,” Azziz acknowledged.
The students will be scheduled for their solo appearances throughout the day June 20, provided with caps and gowns, as the entire process should take six hours.
Presentations will be made by the school’s principal and vice-principal.
“Hopefully each person’s arm is three feet long,” said Azziz.
Approximately $35,000 in bursaries and scholarships are awarded to Princeton students each year.
Azziz said while there is still a considerable number of prizes to be given, some local businesses — due to COVID-19 — “are not in a financial position” to participate this year.
With no prom or large gathering possible for the grad class, school officials are planning a ‘reverse grand march’ through downtown at 6 p.m.
Normally, graduation would include group photos at the Bridge of Dreams, and then the grand march — a parade of grads in their finery and classic cars ending at Veterans Square. A downtown dance and prom would follow.
This year, according to one of the organizers Nicki Ford, students can dress in prom gowns or suits — or any attire — and will stand on Bridge Street at 6:30 p.m. so that residents can drive by and show their appreciation.
Each school and school district is making its own choices about graduation. Azziz said “there was some conversation” about postponing the event until the fall, or even until 2021 when two classes could graduate together. However it was decided that the 2020 graduating class deserves its own tradition. It is important, he concluded, that each grad is allowed the opportunity to cross a stage, as it signifies an important transition.
Azziz said he has some concerns that despite restrictions about gatherings, the graduating students will organize their own after-party.
“I always have that concern…sometimes students don’t make the best decisions.”
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