By SCOTT JACKSON
Quincy school officials have chosen the dates for the ceremonies to honor graduates of the city’s two high schools this summer at Veterans Memorial Stadium.
North Quincy High School’s graduation ceremony will be held on Friday, July 24, beginning at 6 p.m. Quincy High School’s graduation ceremonies will take place the following day, Saturday, July 25, at 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. The contingency dates for the ceremonies are Monday through Wednesday, July 27 to 29, all at 6 p.m.
The graduation ceremonies had been scheduled for next week, but they were postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic. Under new guidelines issued by the state in late May, in-person graduation ceremonies will not be allowed until Sunday, July 19, at the earliest, and must be held outdoors. The state’s guidelines also include standards to protect the health of those in attendance.
There are 280 members of the graduating class at North Quincy High School, and Deputy Superintendent Kevin Mulvey said he was confident there was enough room inside the stadium to hold each graduate on the field and two family members in the seats.
Quincy High School has 380 graduates, however, and there would not be enough room in the stands to accommodate all of their guests. As a result, the class will be divided into two groups of 190 each. Mulvey said they would likely be divided by name.
Students from each school will be required to provide the names of their two guests in advance. Each guest would receive a ticket to enter the stadium.
“We would have to require, based on guidance from the state, that we maintain a manifest where we check-in all preregistered as guests as they come in,” Mulvey said. “That is an additional complicating factor, but certainly something that is doable.”
Each student will be receiving a letter from the school system explaining the new rules for the graduation ceremonies. Students will be asked to respond to the letter to indicate whether or not they plan to attend and, if they plan on attending, to identify the two family members they want to attend.
School Committee member Emily Lebo said she believed the city would be able to hold the graduations successfully next month.
“I feel confident that we will be able to do this,” she said.
Committee Vice Chairman Anthony Andronico thanked Mulvey and school officials for their efforts to plan the ceremonies.
“I know there were some stops and starts with planning and new guidelines and some adjustments that were made along the way, but I believe we finally have it right,” he said.
The School Committee has been discussing plans for this year’s graduation ceremonies since April. School officials had initially said they would hold virtual ceremonies next week on the original graduation dates but left open the possibility of an in-person event later in the summer. More than 2,000 people signed a petition in early May asking for the graduation ceremonies to be moved to a later date in the summer in lieu of the virtual ceremonies.
The school system still plans to release senior tribute videos next week on the original graduation dates.
The state guidelines for graduation ceremonies allows them to be held outdoors starting July 19, provided public health data supports doing so. The ceremonies must be kept as brief as possible.
The guidelines limit attendance to graduates and members of their immediate family only. Pre-registration would be required and only those who register would be allowed to attend. Children under the age of 5, older adults and those with vulnerable health conditions are discouraged from attending.
The state guidelines also require that attendees who are not immediate family members sit six feet apart; immediate family members could sit next to each other. Graduates would also need to be spaced six feet apart.
Plans must also be in place to ensure orderly entrance and exit from the stadium. Communal gatherings would not be allowed before or after the ceremony. That means graduates would not be able to pose for photographs after the ceremony like they traditionally do.
Everyone in attendance would be required to wear masks, except those who cannot do so because of a medical condition. Those who speak at the ceremony would be allowed to remove their mask when addressing the audience.
The guidelines recommend graduates walk across the stage individually and adjust their tassels in lieu of receiving their diplomas. Diplomas could still be handed out in a safe way, however, such as placing it on a table for a graduate to pick up. Hugging and hand shaking would not be allowed.