A survey went out and over 500 seniors have spoken: a live graduation was the preferred method for the usual June ceremony at Patchogue-Medford High School. Late last week, superintendent of schools Dr. Donna Jones confirmed that the Pat- Med School District will host a live ceremony to take place at the high school in “movie theatre” format.
The event will be socially distant while also providing opportunity to offer the over 580 students in the graduating class with a ceremony. Parents will be able to join graduates via their cars. The event will be held on June 25 at 7:30 p.m. Additional details as to what exactly “movie theatre” format means will be released in the coming weeks.
“I am excited to provide the Class of 2020 with a unique graduation experience that they so greatly deserve,” Jones said of the decision to hold a live but altered graduation ceremony. “They have worked so hard and we’re glad we were able to develop a plan for a safe and socially appropriate experience on the high school grounds.”
To further honor the Class of 2020, Jones said, the district will be hosting a car parade that will span the entire community on Friday, May 29 at 2 p.m. The district also purchased Class of 2020 graduate lawn signs to be provided to all seniors and any family who has already purchased a sign will be refunded.
In addition to graduation locker cleanouts, returning books and other items such as uniforms and instruments will be organized between the weeks of June 15 and 22. The scholarships and awards ceremony will be held on June 4 virtually. Senior tribute night was held on May 15 with the lights on at Raider Stadium. Caps, gowns and yearbooks will be distributed in the first week of June.
As for junior and senior prom and the ROTC banquet, they have been can- celled. A decision, Jones added, will be made within the month as to whether they can proceed in some fashion.
Business teacher and Class of 2020 co-advisor Michelle Mars said the way of the world has been a struggle for the seniors, who had hopes and dreams for Senior Day and prom as well as larger events like graduation.
“They have been kind of crushed,” she said of their final year being essen- tially cancelled. “But I am so proud of our kids; they have really rallied together and encouraged the entire class, even though this wasn’t how they expected the year to end.”
“They are happy with the decision; they were really upset by the idea of a virtual graduation,” co-advisor and guidance counselor Lauren Tirado added. “We are so proud of how they have grown these past four years and excited to see what you all have yet to be. Follow your dreams and reach for the stars!”
The Class of 2020 executive board put together Instagram posts for decision day, where seniors announce where they will be attending college, a YouTube video message, and have even created a slide show of pictures they have been collecting since March.
Co-president PJ Osheske said though the year has been unforgettable, he is grateful that he was able to celebrate homecoming and the all-school musical with some of his closest friends. Though, the biggest challenge has been online schooling.
“I appreciate everything my teachers are doing to stay involved, but keeping motivation after AP tests as well as missing out on end-of-the-year activities with them and all of my friends is hard,” he admitted.
As far as the future, he said he hopes prom will be postponed as one last get together and that graduation is not virtual.
“I have been looking forward to being able to walk across that stage in front of my class since I was a freshman,” he said, happy with the decision to host a live graduation in some way. His words for the Class of 2020? “Do not let this bring you down. We’ve been through almost everything, from fires to literally floods; we will get through this together, like we always do.”
If Senior Day is cancelled, the Class of 2020 will be invited back to the high school for a “winter BBW” in late December when students are home from college. The class will also be invited back for their very own Senior Day throwback in June 2021. If prom is ultimately cancelled, a 2021 prom will be offered in January or February.