Monomoy High Announces Plans For Outdoor Graduation

By: Kat Szmit

HARWICH – For weeks, administrators at Monomoy Regional High School have been brainstorming ideas on how to hold a meaningful graduation during a time of quarantine due to COVID-19. Pending Gov. Charlie Baker’s decision on May 18 regarding crowd sizes, not only does MRHS have a plan, but they’ll be doing all they can do celebrate their seniors.

Principal Bill Burkhead revealed the commencement plan during the May 14 school committee meeting, explaining that it had come from analyzing the results of a graduation survey the school had sent out last week. Of the 138 responses, split almost equally between parents and graduates, nearly everyone expressed a desire to hold a ceremony at the high school.

“The kids, at minimum, want to see their friends, wear their caps and gowns, and be on school property,” Burkhead said.

In the survey, graduates and their families were asked whether they wanted the ceremony moved to later in June, later in the summer, held virtually, or be a seniors-only, no family event. While the Class of 2020 was fiercely opposed to a virtual event, the majority said they’d be comfortable with a ceremony at the high school for seniors only.

So, on June 23, MRHS will hold a special evening commencement following social distancing protocol for seniors on the turf at the field behind the high school. To include parents, plans are in the works for a pre-commencement parade, as well as a special video tribute suggested by school committee member Terry Russell.

The week leading up to the graduation ceremony will be a celebratory week honoring the Class of 2020 and will feature a host of special events, including cap decorating and the Shark Last Lap when seniors drive their cars around the school one last time. From June 2 to June 5, Burkhead will be joined by members of the Monomoy staff in delivering caps and gowns via bus, dubbed the Shark Mobile.

Burkhead said an important consideration in the graduation plan was ensuring every graduate would be part of the ceremony.

“One of our guiding principles was that every graduate be there,” he said. “That was one of our philosophical beliefs.”

Pending Gov. Baker’s Monday update, the graduation ceremony will begin at 8 p.m. on June 23. Look for an updated version of this story in the May 21 edition of the Chronicle.