WALLINGFORD — Following the overwhelming support of students, the school district is moving ahead with plans to hold four drive-in commencement ceremonies, two for each high school, to ensure that as many students can participate as possible.
“I’m very excited about this. I think it’s a great way to make sure every student receives his or her due as a graduate from our school system,” said Superintendent Salvatore Menzo.
Both high schools will each be having a ceremony at the Oakdale Theatre, where a stage will be set up and students will walk up one-by-one from their cars to receive their diploma. The ceremony for Sheehan High School will be on July 6 at 6 p.m., while Lyman Hall High School will have its on July 7 also at 6 p.m.
“Each family will have two cars allotted to them,” Menzo said. “One car will be parked in the back lot facing the stage, another car will be parked in an auxiliary lot. We will have video screens for the auxiliary lot so that the family members can see the students cross the stage, because it will be a live ceremony where speeches will be given … and then the students will actually get out of their cars one by one, cross the stage and pick up their diploma and return to their cars.”
Sheehan students opting to participate in an alternative ceremony at their high school will walk on June 22, while the Lyman Hall students will go the following day at Lyman Hall. Both ceremonies will be at 5 p.m.
“Students will be able to get out of the car, get their diploma and then go back in the car and move on. We will be following all of the state guidance, working with the police department and also the health department,” Menzo said.
Both ceremonies will be recorded so that family and friends unable to attend will be able to watch.
Students were presented with a survey of options for what they would like to see their commencement look like with the first two weeks of July as the timeframe in which it would happen. Around 100 students, however, indicated that they would not be able to attend, prompting the district to create the earlier ceremonies at the schools.
Menzo said students preferred the option of having a drive-in ceremony two-to-one over other options in the survey.
Board of Education Chairperson Karen Hlavac said seniors rightly came into their final year with expectations about what that would look like and the board has tried to incorporate the feedback and suggestions it received from students and families into the planning process.
“In trying to make sure that to the best of our ability every student feels that they are a valued member of our school community and the community at large and deserves to be celebrated for what they achieved in the school district we wanted to make sure each student has that ability to celebrate their accomplishments,” she said.