SALEM, N.H. — When the Salem High Class of 2020 graduates in June, the ceremony will preserve some tradition, while incorporating modern technology to safely share the event with the community.
Students will be able to walk across a stage and receive their diplomas, as happens in a traditional graduation, Superintendent Michael Delahanty said. To ensure social distancing is maintained to guard against spreading the coronavirus, however, the ceremony will be live-streamed on a large screen and have no traditional audience, he said.
Students will sit in cars near the stage and be driven up to the stage individually when it is time for them to receive their diplomas, Delahanty said.
“It’s going to be a first, but it’s going to be special,” he said, calling it a “drive-up graduation.”
The ceremony is scheduled for June 5, the original graduation date.
Plans have been in the works since mid-April when it became clear students would not return for their spring semester due to the coronavirus crisis. School officials worked with students to draw up plans for the graduation, Delahanty said.
The School Board unanimously approved the graduation plan Tuesday night.
The event will employ a method that has become popular since social distancing became commonplace in mid-March: Car parades.
Students will gather in their cars at neighborhood elementary schools they attended when they were younger, then be led by police escorts on selected routes to the high school, Delahanty said. The cars will weave through the high school complex to reach the stage in front of the school, he said.
A large LED screen near the school will show a live-stream of students walking across the stage as they receive their diplomas. There will also be an FM transmitter so they can listen in their cars along with any family members who join them in the vehicles, Delahanty said.
School officials said they are trying to arrange to have the ceremony live-streamed on the internet.
Students without access to a car will be provided a ride from the school district, Delahanty said.
The ceremony will likely take nearly two-and-a-half hours, he said.
If possible, the district will host a traditional graduation ceremony in late July or early August before some students leave for college, Delahanty said.