Chelsea High School (CHS) will unveil its first-ever Virtual Graduation event on Sunday, July 12, as the pre-recorded ceremony will be available for students to celebrate and reflect upon.
Supt. Almi Abeyta said the format is produced by GradCasters, but relies on a tremendous amount of local content and speeches – mostly following the same format as a traditional graduation ceremony.
The Class of 2020 will also have a walk-in graduation ceremony that will follow a less traditional format on the weekend of Aug. 6.
“For Virtual Graduation we’re following the traditional agenda for our usual graduation, but we’ve added a few special guests to make it even more of a special time,” said Abeyta. “We’re trying to make it memorable and have people that will truly resonate with the community and be special for the kids as well.”
The ceremony will begin with several speaker at the beginning, including Abeyta, City Manager Tom Ambrosino, Valedictorian Rym El Mahil and Salutatorian Alejandra Ponce Lopez.
El Mahil will be attending Harvard College in the fall, and was described as one of the strongest students CHS has ever seen.
“She is intellectually curious and loves to learn for learning’s sake,” read a statement from the schools. “Rym cares deeply about local, state, and national politics. She is passionate about inequities in public education and has served on the Regional State Advisory Council of Massachusetts, where she tackled big issues in education with other student leaders in Massachusetts.”
She hopes to pursue a career in medicine in the future, with a focus on providing quality health care to those living in under-resourced communities.
Lopez has been an important member of the CHS community, and will attend the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth to begin the journey towards being an OB/GYN doctor.
One of Alejandra’s greatest strengths is her ability to not only be a leader but also an advocate inside and outside of the classroom,” read a statement from the schools. “Additionally, Alejandra is a proud member of our Interact club, our cheerleading and soccer teams, the prom committee, and tutors younger
students in her spare time. Alejandra does all of this seamlessly while balancing her responsibilities at her part-time job at Market Basket.”
For Supt. Abeyta, it will be her first graduation at Chelsea Public Schools, having taken over in January, and it will also be her first graduation speech. It is obviously not coming in the way she imagined, but she hopes her words inspire the Class of 2020 anyhow. She said she really believes they will be one of the most exceptional classes of young people to lead us into a new world.
“I talk about how these students will go down in history as students graduating amidst a pandemic, but also students who sacrificed for the greater good,” she said. “They showed persistence in that they advocated for a walk-in graduation too,. They didn’t give up on that and they got it. They were definitely a unique senior class. With the times they are graduating in being on the cusp of a Civil Rights movement, I believe this generation is going to be called on to lead in this world and make a difference…This generation is one that will live in a different world than we have all lived in.”
Some 62 percent of the students will be going on to a 2-year or 4-year college after high school, and there are 317 total graduates this year – 290 at Chelsea High, 21 at the COA and six from out of district. Some 146 of the graduates spent all 12 years or more in Chelsea Public Schools.
Abeyta said each student will be called on the Virtual Graduation to have their official moment, and either their photo or a video of themselves will be on the screen.
She said a Virtual Graduation might be harder than an in-person graduation what with having to rely on so many parts being submitted.
She also said speakers have to keep in mind their time limit as well.
“In a Virtual Graduation, you have to remember they can fast forward you if you go too long,” she laughed.
The virtual graduation will take place at 1 p.m. on July 12, with links to the ceremony being posted on the Chelsea Public Schools website later this week.
Today, July 9, there will be a Virtual Senior Awards and Scholarship Night online at 6 p.m.