SCHOOL NEWS

Despite restrictions, local seniors enjoy graduation

Sam Desmond
Posted 7/30/20

The capstone of adolescence, a high school graduation is a celebratory, reflective time that marks the start of adulthood.

As we get older and the reunions start, there is always a connective …

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SCHOOL NEWS

Despite restrictions, local seniors enjoy graduation

Posted

The capstone of adolescence, a high school graduation is a celebratory, reflective time that marks the start of adulthood.

As we get older and the reunions start, there is always a connective spirit amongst our graduating class that remembers where the world was when we were deciding to make our mark on it.

For the Class of 2020, graduation has been cemented in the middle of a global pandemic, not seen for over 100 years.

Facing cancellation, strict government restrictions, and logistical problems, each graduation had to be carefully crafted to retain the gravity and levity typical of the ceremony, but also with proper social distancing and strict caps on guests.

Typically held in late-June, Connetquot, Sayville, and Bayport-Blue Point high schools all moved their high school graduations to the end of July in hopes that Gov. Cuomo would increase the maximum number of attendees from the mandated 150.

CONNETQUOT HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATION

Connetquot, which hosted their graduations in two parts on July 22 and 23, decided to have an expedient and efficient drive-through graduation, where they averaged over 75 students per hour.

Across the parking lot of Connetquot High School, facing the fields, 11 rows were set up and barriered with PVC fencing for cars to line up. Students would leave the cars, line up in a covered entryway waiting to get onstage, where their principal and board of education members stood.

Additional fences lined the stage about 20 feet out, where parents and other relatives could gather to take photographs and cheer.

A photo-op section at the opposite end of the stage, bearing the U.S. flag and New York State flag, was set up and held down with weights for the windy evening for parents.

Given the sizeable graduating class, the valedictorian and salutatorian speeches were prerecorded and posted online for graduates to listen to.

SAYVILLE HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATION

Sayville High School held four sessions over July 24 and July 25, with rain causing the first session to be moved back a couple of hours.

Students were socially distanced in groups of three (a cluster of three chairs for the student and two guests were placed six feet equidistant from other clusters of three) with a small stage at the front.

Sayville salutatorian Lauren Flaumenhaft gave a shout-out to Sayville moms for pressuring the school district to have in-person graduation ceremonies instead of the drive-through they originally planned.

Described as a “leader of her peers” by principal Ronald Hoffer, Flaumenhaft’s speech was equal parts inspiration and comic relief, with acknowledgments of the year’s biggest stories, from COVID-19 to the boom of TikTok videos under quarantine.

Ending her speech with a nostalgic nod to Ferris Bueller, she urged her fellow graduates to “tell a joke, Cameron-style,” paying homage to the character’s general droll attitude in the film.

BAYPORT-BLUE POINT HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATION

Bayport-Blue Point High School also had four sessions, but spread them out all over Saturday, July 25, under the blazing hot sun of the day.

Despite the weather, many parents were jubilant about the in-person graduations and the chance to have a “normal” ceremony.

Held on the football field instead of the front lawn to allow for proper social distancing, the cinematic effect of the shining navy blue-and-gold robes were the perfect graduation of a teen movie.

Principal Robert Haas, a BBP High School alum, gave a speech about being in the same place as the 2020 seniors and wanting to leave the small town, but eventually finding his way back. Throughout, he urged the seniors to appreciate that their town was “more than a community. It’s a family.” He also referred to the Class of 2020 as one of the “kindest classes” he had ever had.

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