By Jarret Liotta
Despite the limitations of COVID-19, the 2020 graduating class of Staples High School (SHS) will experience something potentially more memorable for its closing ceremonies than other classes before.
A memory: members of the Class of 2019 turn their tassels at the commencement ceremony. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com
The first-ever Graduation Parade for SHS—or more accurately a series of nine small ones—will take place on Thursday, June 11, beginning at Long Lots Elementary School (LLS) around 10 a.m.
“While we understand that seniors want, above all, to be together, and have asked us to wait to hold an in-person graduation or a socially distanced graduation on campus, at this time these options are not available to us,” Meghan Ward, assistant principal, wrote in an email to parents and SHS seniors.
Instead, parents or guardians will chauffer students, who are asked to wear caps and gowns while seated in the front passenger seat, so as not to be distracted.
Waves of 50 cars, which will have gathered at LLS in three batches at 10, 10:30 and 11 a.m., will be escorted by police along the route, which heads north up Hyde Lane to Long Lots Road, then follows over to, and up, North Avenue to SHS.
Cars will circle the school building to the right, then head up to Bedford Middle School (BMS), where they will continue out toward Cross Highway.
Families are offered a chance to put up banners north of BMS near Wakeman Field, but can only do this the day or night before. No parking will be allowed at the field or at either school the day of the event.
The 443 graduates are being told to arrive at LLS via the Post Road and Maple Avenue North, and will not be permitted to enter from Long Lots Road down Hyde Lane.
The SHS radio station WWPT will broadcast live beginning at 9 a.m. and throughout the parade. A live camera will be stationed at the front of the school and the parade will be streamed to Channel 78.
“The campus is going to look like an incredible celebration of our seniors,” Ward wrote.
“Students, we encourage you to decorate your car to celebrate yourself, your class and your graduation year,” she wrote.
Students and families will be required to stay in their vehicles, cannot stop, and may only have one car per graduating senior.
Neither community members nor other family members will be allowed to watch the parade on school grounds. SHS staff, however, will be present along the route at both schools to cheer on the graduates.
“As you know, our graduation committee has been working hard to make these proposed events special for our students and families under very unique circumstances,” Stafford Thomas, SHS principal, wrote in a follow-up email to parents and students.
He said his team will be meeting again to explore the possibility of an “in-person event” for graduates later in the summer, provided a safe option presents itself.
He said more information will be forthcoming.
At this time Friday, June 12, is scheduled as a rain date for the SHS parade.