Old Town and Orono high schools plan for physically distant graduations

OLD TOWN, Maine — This graduation season will be one to remember for the seniors of Orono and Old Town High Schools. 

With limited options for a customary graduation ceremony due to the coronavirus pandemic, Penobscot area school districts have made alternative arrangements to send off the Class of 2020. 

“We’re trying to give our graduates the best possible graduation as we can [while following health guidelines],” Old Town principal Scott Gordon said. 

The school will hold its ceremony Friday, June 12, on Dewitt Field at the Old Town Municipal Airport. 

Gordon initially planned to hold a ceremony in front of the high school, until parents of the graduating class offered to help organize an alternative celebration for their students. 

“So many people have stepped up,” he said. “I couldn’t have done what’s been done … without a pretty good army of people that I trust.” 

Each graduate will get two tickets for the ceremony so families from separate households can attend in their own vehicles. Graduates will ride in one of the cars with a parent. According to Gordon, students will be called to the stage in small groups to receive their diplomas while families watch from their vehicles. 

There are about 120 Old Town High School graduates this year, Gordon said, but not all may attend the ceremony. The school also plans to livestream the event so people can watch from home. 

Orono High School plans to hold a similar drive-in style graduation ceremony on Saturday, June 6. Students will go up to the stage to get their diplomas one at a time while families stay in their vehicles. 

People inside cars with the windows rolled down are also expected to wear face coverings, according to the school. 

The school will videotape the ceremony and make it available to watch on the district’s Youtube channel afterward. Orono High School graduates will also have their senior night at the Bangor Drive-in Theater on June 2. 

The school did not release the time or location of the ceremony, citing concerns about public attendance. Tickets will be required for both high schools’ ceremonies.

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