May 7, 2020 Letter to the Class of 2020 and Families

Dear Class of 2020 and Families:

First and foremost, congratulations to each and every one of you reaching this very exciting point in your life! No matter what, we are incredibly proud of the Class of 2020 for what they have brought to SHS and to the town of Stoughton.

It is difficult to put into words the challenges we have faced over the course of the past seven weeks and the sense of loss and disappointment many of our students feel, especially our seniors. Typically, at this point in the school year, our seniors are overwhelmed with excitement and anticipation for all of the culminating activities: Athletic Awards, Class Night, Spring Play, Prom, Scholarship Knight and of course, Graduation. This should be considered a celebratory time in their lives and yours! Despite the challenges we face with the school closure and social distancing, our goal is to do just that; make it a celebration to remember!

I am pleased to share an exciting and well-thought-out plan for graduation. After many discussions with various stakeholders, we have come up with a two-part graduation ceremony that will take place on Thursday, June 4th as originally scheduled. In order for this to happen, we have to employ very strict safety measures that are extremely important for all to adhere to. In addition to safety, a Stoughton High School Graduation is a special, dignified event and will be treated as such.

While we have reviewed many plans from around our area and even nationally, I am pleased with the SHS plan and appreciate all of the feedback we have received. I understand some have suggested waiting until July or August, however, I am confident our recently developed plan will be very positive and addresses some mitigating factors including 1) the uncertainty of continued or renewed restrictions on social gatherings in the summer, 2) the likelihood that large crowds will not be allowed for at least a few more months, 3) the fact that some of our students will be off to college, the military or other post- secondary plans and they may not have the opportunity to attend a later ceremony, and 4), bringing a sense of normalcy and closure to a disrupted year.

Graduation Plans:

Part I: National Anthem, Pledge of Allegiance, Various Awards and Speeches (typically given at Class Night) and Graduation Speeches:

The singing of the National Anthem, Pledge of Allegiance, announcement of various awards, speeches typically given on Class Night and Graduation Speeches will be pre-recorded prior to Thursday, June 4th. Seniors will have the opportunity to send in a picture of themselves in their cap and gown along with a special message of thank you, and/or their future plans prior to June 4th. This information will be put together to be included with the pre-recorded portion of the Graduation Ceremony.

Graduation Ceremony will be shared with the entire Stoughton Public Schools’ community on Thursday, June 4th at 10:00 am and will also be available for viewing later.

Part II: Graduation Drive-Up Processional

On Thursday, June 4, 2020, starting at 3:00pm, we will honor our graduates in person with a caravan/drive-up style Graduation Ceremony. Graduating Seniors and their families will travel, at staggered times, to Stoughton High School’s campus. In a careful way, graduating seniors will exit their vehicle and walk up to the bus entrance, where they will stand on a red carpet and then walk across a stage and retrieve his/her diploma from Ms. Miller and Dr. Marcus. The student, wearing the tassel on the right side of the cap, will then shift his/her tassel from right to left and will be declared a Stoughton High School Graduate. A photographer will be positioned directly across from the stage and will take lots of pictures. We are excited to have available faculty and staff members positioned along the bus lane, Middle School parking lot and Cushing Street waving, cheering and possibly holding signs to acknowledge our graduating seniors as they make their way to the stage.

Following this letter, there will be additional details and directions, including an alphabetical schedule for the Graduation Drive-Up Processional, which will run from 3-5:30 pm and a series of expectations that everyone will need to follow in order to maintain safety. Of note, however, we wanted everyone to know that Caps and Gowns are free to all our seniors this year. In addition, this year SHS purchased a Black Knight Graduation Stole for all of our graduates. This Orange Stole with Black Knight and Class of 2020 notation, will be a first time graduation garment worn by Stoughton graduates. We hope this will be a treasured item for years to come.

We will continue to monitor the CDC and Board of Health Regulations and Guidance. As these change, we may make alterations to this plan. In the event that social distancing and large gathering restrictions are lifted during the summer, we will plan to hold another gathering/ceremony for seniors to bring them all together to celebrate. Similarly, Senior Prom has been postponed tentatively until August. The senior class is working on choosing a date. We anticipate students may have difficulty securing formal wear and/or be faced with financial restrictions, so we are working on plans to be able to make the prom free for all attendees. I will be presenting this proposal at the next School Committee Meeting on Tuesday, May 12th at 7:00pm. Please feel free to tune in.

If you have specific questions you would like answered, please feel free to email me. In closing, I would like to thank the Stoughton Police Chief Donna McNamara, Stoughton Fire Chief Michael Laracy, Superintendent Dr. John Marcus, Stoughton Public School’s School Committee, Stoughton High School’s Custodial Staff, and the SHS Faculty and staff for their support and assistance in making these events possible.

Sincerely, Juliette Miller Principal