Wilton High School seniors and their families are a little bit closer to knowing what graduation will be like in the age of social distancing and global pandemic. Principal Dr. Bob O’Donnell and Associate Principal/Senior Class Principal Don Schels joined GOOD Morning Wilton by Zoom to talk about new guidance for graduations issued just Thursday evening, May 14, by the CT State Department of Education, and to discuss what options that provides for the Class of 2020.

The WHS Graduation Committee–made up of school administrators, senior students, members of the PTSA, and parents–have been meeting over the last several weeks to plan options for a graduation that is unprecedented.

“There is no framework for what we are trying to do, and week after week the members of the committee have demonstrated flexibility, creativity, adaptability, and optimism in the face of what is a less than ideal situation,” O’Donnell said.

The objective has been to figure out how to appropriately commemorate the accomplishments of the graduates in a way that’s as close to traditional as possible–within the restrictions of social distancing and state mandates. “We will organize something that’s going to be fitting for this wonderful class of 2020 and meaningful and also safe and healthy,” O’Donnell added.

The plans also have to pass muster with town officials, including First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice, Police Chief John Lynch and Health Director Barrington Bogle. Vanderslice and Lynch met with the committee yesterday “to review our options based on Gov. Lamont’s Executive Order 7X, which ‘prohibits social and recreational gatherings of more than five people.’

O’Donnell said administrators are still looking at Saturday, June 13 as the day on which they “intend to do something.” “We’re committed to doing something while all of our seniors and families are available and in town to be able to participate.

The committee is developing an action plan of three possible scenarios for this year’s graduation celebration:

  1. Students walk across the stage on Fujitani Field to accept their diploma. Each student would have a set time when they would be able to drive up to the field with their family, exit their car one at a time, and walk across the stage in their cap and gown to accept their diploma. A photographer would be on-site to photograph each student.
  2. A car parade of seniors and their families will travel past each lower school and then pass Wilton High School. O’Donnell noted that currently, parades of all kinds are not allowed under Gov. Lamont’s executive order, but that the committee is pursuing the option to appeal this ruling in order to allow vehicle-only parades in which everyone stays in their vehicles the entire time.
  3. (In conjunction with Scenario 1): Live streaming and recording the graduation speeches and students walking across the stage, as well as live stream the students accepting diplomas so that relatives and members of the community can watch. The committee is also looking into compiling a video of the speeches, musical selections, and students walking across the stage in order to produce a video that would look like a full ‘ceremony’ that then would be made available to all seniors.

The school officials hope to have plans formalized by next Thursday, May 21.