Post Graduation Party Cancelled for Wilton’s Class of 2020 High School Students

Wilton students in the high school graduating Class of 2020 are getting another coronavirus shutdown disappointment today–organizers of the Post Graduation Party (PGP) announced this year’s event has been officially canceled.

An annual tradition overseen by the Wilton Youth Council (WYC), the PGP is an event held on the evening of graduation that provides high school seniors who live in Wilton an all-night, drug- and alcohol-free celebration. Wilton teens who graduate from high schools other than Wilton High School are invited along with their WHS peers.

Tuesday morning, students and families received an email from Genevieve Eason, the executive director of WYC. In it she wrote, “After consulting with local leaders, we can reasonably expect that gatherings of this size will not be permitted or advisable at any point this summer. And, unfortunately, we feel there is too much uncertainty about the future to schedule the party for later in the year.”

The party is the culmination of five years of planning and fundraising by the students’ parents. Events are held in the years leading up to the PGP that encourage social interaction for the teens as well as the adults, with the ultimate goal of raising money to produce a large party the night of graduation.

In past years the party was held at Middlebrook School, with scores of volunteers transforming the school hallways and classrooms with decorations that portrayed the year’s chosen theme. Different activities, games, and memorials are part of the evening. More recently, the party has been held at Chelsea Piers, but throughout the decades it has remained a much-anticipated tradition.

The cancellation will also be a disappointment to the many volunteers on the organizing committee who have dedicated countless hours of time and hard work to planning not just the culminating party but other events throughout the years.

Earlier this spring, the members of the Class of 2020 were sent a survey asking their opinion on what to do if PGP could not be held this year on June 13, the night graduation had been scheduled before the pandemic. They were given options of holding it later in the year or canceling; an overwhelming majority (77%) had chosen holding it in August if such a gathering were possible.

Tens of thousands of dollars are raised over the five years the PGP planning committee exists. In addition, many students had purchased tickets to attend. Now that the event has been officially canceled the question becomes, what happens with those funds?

Some parents and students had raised the idea of donating monies that had been collected. Because WYC is a 501 (c) (3), the money can only be used for the purpose for which it was raised, and so organizers had said that such a gesture, while thoughtful, was not possible.

Eason addressed the money in her letter, writing that all PGP ticket purchases will be refunded, and committee organizers will determine the remaining balance after reconciling outstanding deposits to vendors. Once that process is completed, gift cards of equal value will be purchased and given to the students who had registered to attend the PGP.

Acknowledging that money won’t replace the experience of graduation and “one last” celebration with friends, Eason offered words of comfort to the students. “We are so proud of the Class of 2020. This class will be known for its resilience, resourcefulness, generosity, and strength. Life has better days in store for you, and you will be uniquely prepared to thrive.”

Eason’s letter in full:

Dear Students and Parents of the Class of 2020,
As we move through May and into June, graduation season is upon us. For high school seniors and their parents, there are daily reminders of the myriad special occasions that have been anticipated for years and are now lost.  It is a painful time.
I understand how much it hurts.  Two of my children are graduating from college this spring.  Their colleges are offering virtual celebrations and have postponed in-person ceremonies indefinitely.  My heart aches for them.  And if I am honest, I am more than a little sad for myself as well. Parents, we have been looking forward to celebrating with our children all year.  We will not get this moment back.
It is, therefore, with a heavy heart that I write to you now to share that we have made the difficult decision to cancel the Post Graduation Party (PGP).  After consulting with local leaders, we can reasonably expect that gatherings of this size will not be permitted or advisable at any point this summer. And, unfortunately, we feel there is too much uncertainty about the future to schedule the party for later in the year. 
Over the last five years, parent volunteers have dedicated countless hours to fundraising and planning for this extraordinary party.  We are so grateful to all who have generously contributed your time and money to allow the Class Project to celebrate each and every one of our graduates.  
Wilton Youth Council has adopted the following plan for tickets purchased and monies raised:
    • All PGP ticket purchases will be refunded via original payment method to the original payee (with the exception of PayPal non-refundable handling charges).
    • After the refunds are processed, the PGP chair and treasurers will perform a thorough reconciliation of any outstanding deposits to vendors, possible refunds, etc. to determine the balance of funds in the Class Project account.
    • Once this process is completed, the remainder of funds will be used to purchase gift cards of equal value. All students who were registered to attend the PGP will receive a gift card.
Students, while money cannot take the place of graduation and the PGP, we hope that during this difficult time you will find it useful as you move into the next stage of your lives. 
We are so proud of the Class of 2020.  This class will be known for its resilience, resourcefulness, generosity and strength. Life has better days in store for you, and you will be uniquely prepared to thrive.
Warm Regards,
Genevieve Eason
Executive Director
Disclosure:  GMW Editor Heather Borden Herve is the parent of a student in the Class of 2020.  

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