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An Open Letter to the Graduating Seniors and Proud Families

To the graduating Class of 2020:

a picture of an open letter with a heart near it

You were born in a tumultuous post 9-11 world and have lived through the Great Recession and are reaching your K-12 capstone during a pandemic! The world is full of uncertainty, but your K-12 achievements are a certainty and something that you will take with you all of your lives.

Our graduating seniors deserve all of the pomp, circumstance and celebrations that they have earned over these past 13 years. Unfortunately, this pandemic is not of our making and any decisions that we make must be based upon the guidelines and restrictions set in place by our governmental leaders.

It’s difficult to make future plans for celebratory events like graduation when there is so much uncertainty in the world. This is what we know: social distancing requirements are in place and large gatherings of 10 or more are prohibited. Could that change? Yes; and we hope it does. Will it change? We don’t know that. What we do know is that Governor Cuomo and the New York State Education Department is requiring detailed and voluminous plans to be submitted to the state in order to be able to possibly re-open schools in September. That’s four months away; and yet there’s still so much uncertainty.

As a result, our team has come up with alternative plans based upon what is known now and what is expected or may occur in the coming months.

We have stated publicly via the district website and social media that we will hold a traditional graduation in August, if permissible by law. (Even traditional in the sense of how it was done in the past may be up in the air.) So, with all that in mind, our team has come up with a plan to give the students some semblance of a graduation while adhering to social distancing/large gathering laws and with health and safety first and foremost.

Rather than put all of our “eggs in one basket” and banking solely on an August graduation taking place, our team has thought “outside-of-the-box” and come up with a modified graduation ceremony deemed as a curbside graduation. This will take place over five days and be split up by last name. Parents/families come to the north entrance of the high school, pull up in their cars, the graduate gets out, walks up on a small stage that has been decorated beautifully with the high school as the backdrop, gets their diploma cover, has their name announced and a photo taken, which will then be provided free to families. This way also gives families the chance to actually see their senior graduate up-close and in-person from the safety of their vehicle. This is expected to take place the week of June 22-26.

Then on June 27 at 10 am, we will post a beautiful graduation video highlighting our seniors and their accomplishments complete with speeches and the Regents decree certifying this milestone.

Then as mentioned, if social distancing lessens and large gatherings are allowed in August, we will hold a modified “traditional” ceremony. We will be announcing a date for that in the very near future.

Again, this plan ensures that students get some form of a graduation ceremony, while also being courteous and inclusive of those who had plans to leave immediately after graduation such as military enlistees and those who have secured employment out of state or are moving to another location to begin a new chapter in their lives.

While this plan is not perfect, it’s really the best that can be done considering the circumstances.

We are doing all that we can to highlight this great group of seniors. The team is working on videos for Academic Awards Night, Scholarship Night, graduation, along with virtual signing ceremonies for athletics, music and career and technical education students who will continue on playing sports in college, pursuing music at the next level or following a career and technical path in college or the workforce.

We know many of our friends, family and neighbors who are facing these similar circumstances (in our district and other districts) and going through all of these same emotions. In fact, our superintendent, Mr. Coster, will be celebrating his son who is graduating this year, as well.

On behalf of the Board of Education, I would like to thank you for your patience as we navigate these unprecedented times together. We hope that you are able to find some enjoyment in these celebratory activities. We know it’s not how we all planned or prefer, but it will be memorable for sure. Thank you and please stay healthy and safe.

Sincerely,

Robert Vecchio
President, William Floyd Board of Education


 

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