District officials say they’re planning a limited-attendance June 15 ceremony at Dunning Field for New Canaan High School’s graduating class that will be followed by a car parade that invites in the wider community.
Officials are “still working through the restrictions and requirements around number of attendees” for the Dunning portion of the day’s events, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Bryan Luizzi told members of the Board of Education at their regular meeting Monday.
NCHS Principal Bill Egan and the PFA are working together on the plan, Luizzi said during the meeting, held via videoconference.
“Having it on the 15th, doing it earlier in the day, so that we would then have an abbreviated ceremony,” Luizzi said. “So it would be shorter than usual, and we would still incorporate a car parade into the experience for the kids. So we are looking into details of that, maybe, and how we can pull that off.”
The comments came as the school board voted 8-0 to set June 15 as the graduation date, June 16 as the rain date and June 17 as the last day of school for students and faculty (typically a half-day). Board of Ed members voting including Chair Katrina Parkhill, Vice Chair Brendan Hayes, Sheri West, Penny Rashin, Dionna Carlson, Bob Naughton, Julie Reeves and Jennifer Richardson.
Last year, New Canaan Public Schools organized a successful “graduation parade” for NCHS seniors who found themselves separated from each other as well as teachers, staff and coaches as the pandemic hit in mid-March. This year, NCHS and the wider district phased in to full in-person learning slowly, as NCPS worked with municipal health officials and under state guidelines in implementing a number of strategies to mitigate transmission of COVID-19 virus. Those included mask-wearing, dividing grades into cohorts, increasing outdoor learning spaces and not only tracking confirmed cases of coronavirus among students and staff (and having them isolate), but also those who were exposed to the virus due to close contact with those individuals. Figures released this week from NCPS show that just seven students and one staff member district-wide were isolating due to testing positive for COVID-19.
Luizzi during the Board of Ed meeting said a number of end-of-year events are planned, some virtual and some in-person, outdoors whenever possible—including a Senior Prom gathering at Waveny, senior trip to Six Flags, outdoor ceremony for Saxe Middle School eighth-graders, eighth-grade picnic and bagel breakfast. Officials are seeking to “create new things” for students to enjoy not a “pale replica of what might have been,” Luizzi said.
“We are balancing the loosening up of some restrictions and yet keeping some other mitigation strategies, being safe with that,” he said.