Scituate graduation to be held in person

Scituate graduation to be held in person

SCITUATE – High hopes are on the horizon for the Scituate High School Class of 2021, according to Principal Michael Hassell, who told The Valley Breeze & Observer this week that prom and graduation will likely take place in person this year.

Exactly what the events will look like is still being hashed out, he said, but they will most likely be relocated from the North Scituate Gazebo to the new football field, Caito Field.

Hassell warned that plans are still tentative and nothing is set in stone.

“This year will hopefully be better for the students than 2020,” he said.

Hassell said much of the planning for high school graduation consists of looking at guidelines for weddings and other large, outdoor gatherings. Those events have a restriction of 500 people outdoors when individuals are distanced in pods.

That model will work fine for Scituate, said Hassell, who has a graduating class of 100 students. Other schools with a larger student body may have more difficulty, he said.

Still, Hassell said 500 people is a significant reduction of the number of people who typically attend a Scituate graduation. In the past, he said, the district rented 1,000 chairs for the North Scituate Gazebo for a graduating class of 100 students.

“There would still be standing room only at past graduations. So we’re still working out the details on that one,” he said.

He said limiting attendants to just parents, or parents with a sibling, who will sit in the bleachers in distanced pods is the best option they’ve come up with so far.

Hassell, who is on the Executive Board for the Rhode Island Principals Association, said after having dialogues with the Department of Health and Department of Education, principals are looking to receive more guidance than last year. He said all principals are advocating for more guidance for how to hold graduation and prom this year.

“We felt that there were not enough safety guidelines in place to hold graduation last year. We’re looking for consistency among high school districts,” he said.

Hassell said this year, the RIDOH appears to have a better understanding of what can safely take place. He anticipates an announcement from the Rhode Island Department of Education this week on prom and graduation guidelines.

As for prom, Hassell said plans to hold it at the Quidnessett Country Club are still in action. For a short while, Hassell said, the school worked on a plan to hold it at Caito Field, but quickly abandoned the idea due to the large-scale production that would be required.

Hassell said seniors will attend a more traditional, less backyard, prom at Quidnessett, though seniors will most likely need to restrict interactions between pods of 10 people. With the use of pods, he said, the entire senior class would not need to quarantine in the case of a positive COVID-19 case.

“They’ll still be able to dance together and sit at a table,” Hassell said.

Other events, like the Top Ten Student Breakfast, Scholarship Night and National Honor Society awards are also expected to take place in person.

All events, including graduation, will be livestreamed for those who cannot attend in person.

Hassell said plans for a possible reunion or prom for the class of 2020 are not completely out of the question right now.