After hearing from senior students and their families, Chelsea Public Schools announced this week they will offer a virtual graduation, and also a walk-in graduation where students will get to cross the stage individually at the Stadium and families will be able to take photos of the moment – even if a bit solitary.
Two weeks ago, Principal Mark Martineau and Supt. Almi Abeyta went ahead with scheduling a virtual graduation that will take place on July 12 and will be a full-scale production.
That upset a lot of seniors and their families, and sparked several online Town Halls to talk about alternatives. It also allowed for the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) to come out with graduation regulations late last week. Now, administrators announced there will be a walk-in graduation in early August.
“After having listened to you via the town halls and student surveys and learning of the latest recommendations from DESE, we have made the decision to have an Individual Walk-In Graduation,” wrote Abeyta in a letter to seniors. “We recognize the importance of crossing the stage, and our desire is to honor this special moment; we have worked on a way to do this safely for all involved. Please hold August 4 -7, 2020 on your calendar because you will be given a time and date to meet at the Chelsea High School Field to cross the stage (inclement weather date to be determined) and be handed your diploma.”
More details will follow and they will be working out many of the details so the event will be safe.
Abeyta and Martineau have said they understand that students were upset about the decision to schedule a virtual graduation without consulting students. Time, however, was of the essence and a quick decision had to be made to secure GradCasters to perform the ceremony.
“This decision was made with the information and knowledge that we had at the time and based solely on the safety and well-being for each of you, your families, and our staff,” wrote Abeyta. “The virtual graduation will still proceed as planned on July 12, 2020. Our goal with the virtual graduation was to ensure that you were celebrated despite the health risk of the current pandemic.”
The virtual graduation will feature each student who will be called in to give an interview individually in their cap and gown. She said all of that will be collected and organized into a cohesive and professional production that will be shown and distributed on July 12.
Overall, Abeyta said the idea is to celebrate the class in the best way possible, and she and the staff are looking forward to planning the walk-in ceremony as well as the virtual one.
“We are also cognizant that this has been a difficult time with many mixed emotions, and we want to honor you,” she wrote. “Our goal is to celebrate the Class of 2020 and to ensure that you are recognized for your perseverance and hard work as you end one chapter in your life to begin a new one.”
•SENIOR LAWN SIGNS, ETC.
Already, the celebration for seniors has started with the placement of lawn and window signs at the homes of each student on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Staff and School Committee members places signs over both days that celebrated the students and their upcoming graduation.
There will be video messages through May and June, a virtual Senior Awards and Scholarship Night on July 9, and the virtual graduation on July 12.