SALEM, N.H. – Year-end celebrations are shifting back to the more traditional, according to conversations last week between Superintendent Michael Delahanty and School Board members.

“Things are beginning to improve and I believe there is consensus about that,” Delahanty said, acknowledging that safety precautions are still necessary to stop the spread of COVID-19.

The Salem School District is one of the only in the state to have maintained in-person learning since the start of the academic year.

School Board members last week unanimously approved a high school graduation date of June 11 with a rain date of June 12. The rest of the district's students will end the year June 15. 

The ceremony will happen on Grant Field, as it usually does, with students keeping 3 feet of distance between them. Each student will be limited in the number of spectators he or she can invite. The idea of four guests per graduate was mentioned, but details were not finalized.

"This is twelve weeks from now, give or take a day. Twelve weeks ago we were celebrating Christmas," Delahanty told The Eagle-Tribune on Thursday. "A lot has happened since Dec. 25, and a lot can happen during the next twelve weeks. I don't want to make any commitments we can't keep."

He expects final decisions to come mid-April.

Last June, three months into the pandemic, Salem hosted a drive-up graduation, during which students sat in cars near a stage and were driven closer when it was time to receive their diploma.

“Everyone enjoyed the drive-up graduation last year, but if we can return to something more normal, we would like to be able to do that,” Delahanty told the board Tuesday.

Some innovative ideas from last year will be continued, including lining Geremonty Drive with photos of graduates and placing special lawn signs throughout town that recognize their accomplishments.

Seniors are also likely to enjoy a condensed version of senior safe night and prom. Delahanty explained to School Board members that students will still be able to get dressed up, participate in a grand march, eat a meal together, and view the video yearbook.

Though Salem seniors typically celebrate prom at outside venues, this year’s event will be hosted at the high school, according to Delahanty.

He said ideas for celebratory gatherings honoring fifth- and eighth-graders are also being considered with pandemic protocols in place.

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