Four Rivers Charter Public School holding socially distant graduation for 31 students

  • Four Rivers Charter Public School graduates toss their caps after the 2019 commencement ceremony. This year’s ceremony will be held on June 6. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Staff Writer
Published: 5/29/2020 3:10:47 PM

GREENFIELD — Four Rivers Charter Public School administrators hope that holding an in-person graduation ceremony on June 6, albeit with modifications, will bring some hope and inspiration to graduating seniors and their loved ones.

Plans for the ceremony, which will commence at 6 p.m. on the school soccer field, respect social distancing guidelines and require attendees to wear face masks.

“I sent the plan to a good friend in public health and to the city’s Board of Health,” Assistant Principal Susan Durkee said. “They both said ‘Yes, it’s a good plan.’”

Durkee said 31 students will graduate, with each of their families sitting in assigned 6-foot-by-6-foot squares. Up to six or seven people will be allowed per square, but they must be from the same household. Each square will be at least 6 feet from the other squares, and students with two families because of divorce or some other reason will get two squares.

Masks will be worn, Durkee said, but students will be allowed to take them off when they are on stage, because no one will be speaking close enough to them to risk exposure to COVID-19.

“We’re going to perform all of the traditions we have in the past, including receiving diplomas, speeches about the students, tossing of the caps and faculty singing,” Durkee said. “It’ll just be done in a little different way.”

Graduates will sit in rows 6 feet apart on the field, and will be called onto the stage in groups of eight to listen to advisors’ speeches about each of them. Durkee said guests will then be able to take photos and videos as well.

“Each student will stand as their advisor speaks about them, each advisor will have their own microphone,” she explained. “Student speakers will go to a mic and place their own sock over it as they take turns.”

Once one group of students leaves the stage, they’ll return to where they were sitting near their families and friends.

“Then, they’ll collect their diplomas, which will be laid out on a table,” Durkee said. “Their names will be on the diplomas so that they can easily find and take them.”

At the end of the ceremony, students will leave their seats, go to an area where they will toss their caps and then return to their vehicles.

“We preserved every part of graduation,” she said. “It will be livestreamed for anyone who can’t be there.”

Durkee said there will be a rain date or two, if the weather is bad on June 6. She said there won’t be a tent, so Four Rivers won’t be able to hold the ceremony if it rains.

“Everyone will have to be flexible,” said Durkee, who is leaving the school after the end of this year. “I’m so happy we’re going to be able to do this for the students and their families.”

Reach Anita Fritz at 413-772-9591 or

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