Graduation update letters were recently sent to the parents of Abington Senior High School’s 2020 graduating class, outlining this year’s prospective commencement plans, which were altered and revised due to the pandemic.
“Our students in the Class of 2020 have worked hard to get where they are today, and they deserve to celebrate this milestone in their lives in a dignified manner,” said Angelo Berrios, the school’s principal.
Commencement suggestions fell into three primary categories, which include: postponing graduation until a later time; coordinating a social distancing graduation in the Schwarzman Stadium; or conducting a drive-through parade graduation in conjunction with a virtual ceremony.
According to Berrios, the active pursuit of ideas and critical input from different stakeholders, such as parents, guardians, and students, guided the decision.
“The school administrative team and I have examined multiple scenarios to hold a commencement event where the Class of 2020 would feel honored and valued in a dignified program to celebrate their graduation,” Berrios stated in an email.
Hosting a virtual ceremony is likely the safest alternative to a traditional graduation celebration.
However, more responses were in support of a drive-through parade than the other options. To that end, Abington Senior High School will hold a drive-through parade graduation on June 10, for students with the last name A-L, and on June 11, for students with the last name M-Z. June 12, will serve as a make-up day for students and families unable to attend prior dates.
“It is with great thought that these ideas were considered with deliberate weight given to the structure and limitations demanded by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Berrios said.
The social distancing option is not a viable plan given Gov. Wolf’s order that gatherings the size of the ASH graduating class is currently not permissible. The district has also been told by government officials that it is highly unlikely that a ban on group gatherings would be lifted over the summer months.
The letter to parents states that “the drive-through parade will allow for a dignified event, and the intent is to emulate the feel of a ceremony.”
The drive-through parade will also offer students an opportunity to take a picture with an Abington back-drop, allowing parents and guardians to be a part of that moment while social distancing and students will receive their diplomas and senior awards during this event.
“I appreciate the resiliency of our seniors and their can-do attitude toward finding a way to make this annual tradition feel special, despite the non-traditional times we are all facing,” Berrios said.
It was announced in the district’s correspondence that ASH will hold a virtual graduation ceremony, posted for viewing on June 11, in conjunction with the parade to honor the class of 2020.
“We look forward to celebrating our Abington Senior High School Class of 2020 via a safe, hybrid model that allows us to honor graduates through virtual and in-person ceremonies, the latter of which being a drive-through graduation event with the opportunity for them to individually walk across the stage to receive their diploma,” Berrios said.
The ceremony will include pre-recorded videos of traditional graduation speeches as well as a roll-call of names of the graduates.
Each student will have their photo and graduation message displayed during the event. It will be viewable through a variety of social media outlets and on the school district website.
The Abington Educational Foundation has committed to purchasing the Class of 2020 lawn signs and a banner. The lawn signs will display each student’s photograph and their name. If given township permission, the banner will be displayed in the community in a show of support and gratitude for the Class of 2020. As an added bonus, the Abington Alumni Association will award all Class of 2020 graduates with complimentary lifetime memberships in the Alumni Association.