Cheers for one-by-one Easthampton High commencement

  • Cameron Searle receives his diploma after being filmed walking across the stage Friday at Easthampton High School. Behind him is Principal Bill Evans. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Kobe Skrocki after receiving his diploma Friday at Easthampton High School. Individual seniors showed up at specific times to get filmed walking across stage and receiving their diplomas. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Kobe Skrocki stands with Kylee Skrocki, James Skrocki, Jace Skrocki and Jazmin Skrocki after receiving his diploma Friday at Easthampton High School. Individual seniors showed up at specific times to get filmed walking across stage and receiving their diplomas. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Nathaniel Smith gets his picture taken by his parents, left, Donna Smith and Glenn Smith, after receiving his diploma Friday at Easthampton High School. Individual seniors showed up at specific times to get filmed walking across stage and receiving their diplomas. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Kobe Skrocki after receiving his diploma Friday at Easthampton High School. Individual seniors showed up at specific times to get filmed walking across stage and receiving their diplomas. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Easthampton High School diplomas were waiting for graduating seniors, who showed up one at a time to get filmed walking across the stage while family members clapped and cheered. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

Staff Writer
Published: 6/6/2020 5:57:20 PM

EASTHAMPTON — Friday marked the completion of a graduation ceremony the likes of which Easthampton High School has never seen before.

Over the course of five days, students of the Class of 2020 took their turns walking across an outdoor stage in front of the High School, a giant 2020 sign in the background. They did so one at a time, each student being allotted a 10-minute window.

“I’m pleased with the way this has gone,” said EHS Principal Bill Evans. “I think the families feel like they get to see the goods, so to speak.”

Of the 117 graduates in this year’s class, almost all chose to participate in the ceremony.

The socially distant, one-at-a-time commencement ceremony was designed to maintain safety amid the COVID-19 pandemic, which ended in-person classes at EHS in March.

The ceremony was certainly not what any of the graduates pictured for their graduation at the beginning of the school year. Still, the diplomas they received at the end of their walks were no less real, nor were the cheers of family members and the pictures they took after.

“Maybe it’s not the way we envisioned, but I’m still happy that it’s happening,” said graduate Nathaniel Smith.

All of the walks are going to be included in a video that’s being created by Easthampton Media, which will also include videos from those who would have spoken at graduation under normal circumstances.

Graduate Cameron Searle said he hadn’t expected to have an in-person graduation, saying he thought it might have been online or pushed back until later.

“They managed to pull it off,” he said. “I thought it was pretty cool.”

Graduate Kobe Skrocki described graduating as “surreal.”

“The moment I first walked into the school freshman year to now,” he said. “Feels like it was instant.”

Skrocki also expressed happiness at the graduation ceremony.

“I thought it was really cool the way they did it,” Skrocki said. “It’s really cool just to be able to still have that experience of actually picking up and getting your diploma at the school.”

Evans said the ceremony was created after consulting with seniors and their parents, including holding a remote meeting for the entire senior class through the videoconferencing app Zoom.

“It’s our ceremony, but it’s in honor of them,” Evans said. “We really felt like we wanted them to tell us what it is that they wanted out of this.”

The city’s police chief and health agent were also consulted.

Some of the other ideas that had been considered were a virtual graduation and one where everyone would be in their cars until called up.

There are also plans for an in-person graduation ceremony on Aug. 13, “COVID permitting,” where the entire class can attend at once.

“It’s going to happen out here on the baseball field,” Evans said. “That will have some strict guidelines around distancing.”

Evans said he was proud of the graduates for making the best of the situation. And he praised the custodial staff, who put up the 2020 sign on their own initiative. 

Graduate Olivia Tabb said her favorite thing about high school was the teachers.

“They’re all just super nice and treat you like adults,” Tabb said.

She plans on taking a year off before college because of COVID-19 and plans on studying music.

Smith, who plans to attend Holyoke Community College and is looking to go into the child psychology field, praised EHS.

“It’s just a really great community here. We’re all so inclusive,” he said. “I’m just happy to have made it this far.”

Bera Dunau can be reached at bdunau@gazettenet.com.

 




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