BROCKWAY — It may not be a traditional graduation, but districts around the country are still giving the Class of 2020 some form of a send off.
The Brockway Area School District has set its commencement activities for June 4 at Moonlite Drive-In. The event will be telecast on MegaRock’s Facebook page starting at 8:30 p.m.
“The school district recognized the importance of providing our graduates a memorable ceremony honoring their accomplishments and hard work over the years,” Superintendent Jeff Vizza said. “We are excited to be working with this extraordinary group of young adults to ensure their senior year is celebrated as in the past!”
The school district and community have worked together to try to improve seniors’ morale as the COVID-19 pandemic canceled in-person classes during their final year of high school. Brockway had a special photo-shoot for seniors in front of the football scoreboard. They have also scheduled a virtual National Honors Society induction ceremony for May 8. In addition, the community and school members have started the Adopt-A-Senior Facebook page to give gifts and encouragement to quarantined seniors.
Livestreaming a drive-in graduation is one of the non-traditional ways that schools have been celebrating seniors. High School Co-Principal Brian Mulhollan said that the goal is to stage as many traditional senior-year events, but in a different format.
“We talked to a lot of parents who were concerned,” Mulhollan said. “They felt that their children needed some sort of closure. Jim Lipuma said he could make it happen at no charge.”
Brockway will undertake a half-live/half-virtual graduation. Parts of the ceremony will be filmed in the weeks leading up to the graduation and those will be shown on the screen at Moonlite Drive-in. Dan Wallace will run the audio and visual.
Valedictorian Lainee Swanson’s speech will be filmed before graduation, but she does not see that as a problem.
“I think the drive-in graduation is a wonderful idea,” she said. “It might not be exactly what everyone wants, but it’s something that will forever be special to our class.”
In the weeks leading up to the ceremony, seniors will have their pictures taken in their caps and gowns. The school is staggering the times students come into the building and will have seniors get their caps and gowns, pick up yearbooks, take pictures, clean out lockers, and sign the National Honors Society book when they are in the school.
The new reality is creating some excitement among seniors at Brockway.
“I think that it’s definitely going to be one that people remember,” Phil Shifter said. “But I personally think that it’s going be really weird.”
Fellow Brockway senior Justice Williams said that she is glad the administration worked out a way for her to graduate.
“Of course, it’s not ideal,” she said. “Considering this is not only new for us, but new to the administration as well, I think they did their best. Hopefully, this is a unique experience that only the Class of 2020 will get.”
“We are in a unique time right now with everything going on,” Anthony Glasl said. “Being able to get together at the drive-in to graduate together is going to be awesome!”
Salem Murray said she was grateful for the opportunity to graduate.
“It’s just nice to know that our district is willing to do whatever is necessary to help us seniors,” she said. “I think this drive-in graduation is such a smart and fun choice. I cannot wait!”