In wake of new guidelines and family feedback, Turners Falls High School reschedules graduation to July

  • Turners Falls High School seniors move their tassels from the right to the left side of their caps during the 2019 commencement. This year’s graduation ceremony, originally planned for next week, has been rescheduled to July 22. Staff File Photo/Andy Castillo

Staff Writer
Published: 5/31/2020 12:18:14 PM

MONTAGUE — Originally planned for this week, Turners Falls High School’s graduation ceremony has been rescheduled to July 22 at 6 p.m., due to new public health-minded regulations issued by the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE).

In a survey conducted by the school, students and parents were asked whether they would prefer to have a “drive-by” graduation on the regular date of June 4, or reschedule to late July to have a relatively traditional graduation ceremony on the football field.

The response was overwhelmingly in favor of rescheduling, according to Turners Falls High School Principal Joanne Menard.

The graduating students on the field will wear masks and will be seated 6 feet apart, as will also be the case for their loved ones seated in the bleachers. Everyone will be required to leave immediately after the ceremony.

But, Menard emphasized, this arrangement will still allow for all the traditional parts of the graduation ceremony. The traditional speeches by the principal, superintendent, class officers and others will still be made, and a photographer will be there as usual.

“(Students and families) want everything to be normal, but they truly understand there’s no way we can have that,” Menard explained. “We really are honoring all the traditions that have been done in the past, everything we can possibly do, which I think is important to do for everybody — both to keep the Gill-Montague traditions going, and to honor everybody in the past. People realize we are trying to do that.”

A drive-by parade will also be held that morning. Graduates in caps and gowns will meet at the high school at 10:30 a.m., then, led by a police escort, will leave at 11:15 a.m., reach Erving Elementary School at 11:30 a.m., Gill Elementary School at 11:50 a.m., Sheffield Elementary School at 12:20 p.m. and Hillcrest Elementary School at 12:30 p.m.

In the event of rain, the graduation ceremony and parade will be moved two days later, to Friday, July 24.

If it rains again on Friday, it will be mostly a drive-by ceremony instead. With vehicles lined up in front of the high school, each graduate, one at a time, will get out to take photos and receive his or her diploma and any awards or gifts, followed by the vehicles of family and friends. In this scenario, everyone will still be asked to wear a mask.

Reach Max Marcus at or 413-930-4231.

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