Like others across the state, Ellington High School seniors will mark the end of their high school careers much differently than they expected. But there will still be something special to celebrate.
The Ellington School Board said they realized graduating students in the Class of 2020 wanted something as close to a traditional graduation as they could possibly have in the time of COVID-19, and they deserve it, so they tried to come up with something unique to make it happen.
“I was expecting it to be basically the same as my siblings, but … it’s not,” Ellington senior Victoria Palmer-Lavoie said.
The last months of Palmer-Lavoie’s final year at Ellington High School didn’t go anything like she and her classmates expected. But now she’s hoping that their graduation, like no one ever imagined, will leave her class with memories they’ll never forget.
Instead of crossing the stage to get their diplomas, the school district announced that graduates will drive to the Mansfield Drive-In for their graduation ceremony, which will include socially-distanced speeches, musical performances, and their family and friends looking on from their vehicles.
“It’s basically like you drive up and when your name is called, and that’s when you get your diploma. We don’t know a whole bunch of it just yet,” Palmer-Lavoie said.
The Board of Education unanimously approved the ceremony that will allow students to gather and celebrate while staying safe and healthy, saying in a statement:
"When the student survey results came back and their number one priority was to have a graduation that was in-person and not virtual, we worked with state and local officials to come up and design the best possible graduation to honor this special class of 2020.”
Palmer-Lavoie’s mother said she’s glad the last of her four children will get a celebration, even if it’s different from what’s happened for seniors in the past.
“It’s been tough watching her miss that and watching her not get to spend time with her friends in real life,” Maureen Palmer-Lavoie said.
Victoria is planning to head to St. Michael’s to study French in the fall. She’s still waiting to see what shape the next chapter of her life will take because of COVID-19, but as she closes this one, she’s glad she’ll get to celebrate with her classmates one last time.
“It’s been an experience and I’m just happy that we get to end somewhere…somehow.”
The drive-in ceremony will cap off a week of events for the Ellington Class of 2020, which also include a drive-up breakfast and parade through town.