high school graduation

Parents Push for Special Graduation for High School Seniors

It comes amid continuing restrictions due to the coronavirus.

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One state and one giant high school graduation.

That’s the idea of some parents as a way to give seniors something special to remember after everything they’ve lost this year.

Now they’re trying to get the governor’s OK.

“There are 200 of us and we’ve really grown up together from K through 12,” said Nathan Paolangeli, a senior at Tolland High School.

Paolangeli and his mom Tamara believe, especially during these trying times, it’s important for the Class of 2020 at Tolland High School to be able to properly say goodbye.

“This is a group that lost a lot of memories, between prom, last sports events and last musicals,” said Tamara Paolangeli.

That’s why their family and others across the state are trying to make an in-person graduation possible for every senior.

“We came up with ideas of how can we make this even more special for them,” said Philip Landino, of Southington.

Landino, who has a daughter graduating from Southington, and other parents proposed holding every ceremony in the state at the same time and have started an online petition.

In each community, volunteers could plan the ceremony to be held safely on a big outdoor space, such as a football field, they say.

The football field at Tolland High School where some envision a modified graduation ceremony taking place.

“Everybody is going to spread apart by six feet. The family in the stands will absolutely be set apart by six feet each,” said Landino.

They’ve also come up with a list of guidelines, such as limiting guests, everyone wears masks, temperature checks and plenty of hand sanitizer.

It all hinges on a temporary break from the ban on large gatherings, which the governor was asked about on Monday.

“I haven’t heard about that. It seems like an interesting idea,” Gov. Ned Lamont, D–Connecticut, said.

While the governor thinks about it, Nathan said, as Tolland’s valedictorian he’s still got a speech to write, reflecting in part on this unusual end to high school.

“We want to fight as much as anyone else because we want to have that graduation, that last memory,” said Paolangeli.

The group is proposing the graduation take place on Monday, June 22 or on a Monday in July.

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