Greenfield High School plans for graduation at fairgrounds

  • Greenfield High School seniors gather in the gym before graduation in 2018. This year’s graduation will be held at the Franklin County Fairgrounds on May 30. Staff File Photo/Paul Franz

Staff Report
Published: 5/4/2020 10:51:20 AM

GREENFIELD — After consulting with the Board of Health and Emergency Operations Center, the Greenfield School Department has settled on a way to hold a special graduation ceremony for the Class of 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The graduation ceremony for Greenfield High School’s seniors will be held outdoors at the Franklin County Fairgrounds on Saturday, May 30, at 10 a.m., according to a press release from the School Department. The rain date is Sunday, May 31, at 1 p.m.

The release states that members of the Class of 2020 will be allowed to bring only one car per senior (with exceptions for families with two households) and will park in designated spots at the fairgrounds. Family members and seniors will remain in their vehicles to watch the graduation, and each graduating senior will proceed across the large stage individually. Members of the Greenfield Police Department and additional staff will be on site to ensure all students and families are safe and that everyone practices social distancing.

The School Department’s decision comes during a time when local schools are revising their usual graduation ceremonies to allow for adequate social distancing. Similarly, the Pioneer Valley Regional School District is holding its graduation at the Northfield Drive-In on June 4.

“It is important to us that this year’s graduation honor the spirit of this graduating class, while still ensuring that everyone is safe,” said Superintendent Jordana Harper. “We want to do as much as we can for this year’s senior class, given the circumstances.”

“I’ve been in contact with seniors, parents and teachers since closure, and all of them have expressed a desire to hold the ceremony in-person if that could be made possible,” added Greenfield High School Principal Karin Patenaude.

According to the release, there will be an opportunity for immediate family/household members to come to an area in front of the stage and take photos of their senior. After the last senior receives his or her diploma, the police and fire departments will lead a celebratory vehicle parade from the fairgrounds, up Main Street, up Federal Street, down Silver Street and past Greenfield High School for one last farewell to the school.

The School Department, with the support of the Greenfield Education Foundation, has also ensured graduating seniors will receive lawn signs in advance of the ceremony and parade. Community members who would like to display a lawn sign are encouraged to contact Mike Kuchieski at mickuc1@gpsk12.org.

Patenaude said she is happy the School Department was able to find a new, safe way to hold a graduation ceremony amid the pandemic.

“I’ve been with this class since they were in sixth grade. We ‘stepped up’ to the high school together during their eighth-grade year, and I have worked with them closely throughout their high school years,” she said. “They’re so special to me and they know I am heartbroken that I won’t be able to give each one of them a hug, but I am excited we can give them this. They deserve to be honored for all of their hard work.”


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