The Class of 2020 Deserves Something More

Stamford High School Class of 2019 Graduation

Brian A. Pounds/Hearst Connecticut Media

Stamford High School Class of 2019 Graduation

Jenna Calorossi, Staff Writer

At the end of my sophomore year, my mom and I decided to go to the Stamford High Class of 2018 graduation ceremony. Even though I didn’t have any immediate family members graduating, I had my cousin and many friends in the senior class who were going to walk across the stage that afternoon to get their diplomas. I will always have the memory engraved in my mind, whispering to my mom, “I can’t wait until I graduate and get to have my moment with my classmates” and her response of, “We’re gonna have the whole family here cheering you on”. Well, little did we all know….

Unfortunately due to the COVID-19 pandemic, my classmates and I will not have a traditional graduation or senior year as a whole. Moreover, according to the superintendent and Board of Education, we may not even get to have our moment walking across a stage. At this past week’s Board of Education Teaching, Learning, and Community Committee meeting via Zoom, one of the topics they discussed was high school graduation. Associate Superintendent School Development, Olympia Della Flora, was screen sharing the slideshow of points and information. When it became time for them to address graduation this year, they switched the slide to one that read that they are planning for a virtual graduation ceremony this year. 

My heart instantly sank and I felt that any hope we students had been given was instantly taken away. There had been a survey posted on the Stamford High website with alternatives for prom and graduation, and also asking for any ideas and suggestions for both. The two graduation alternates that were presented on the survey were to either postpone the ceremony until August or have virtual graduation. Superintendent Tamu Lucero went on to say they had considered other options before deciding on a virtual ceremony as she deemed it to be in the best interests of the health and safety of all. She never addressed what the other options considered were or why we could not use them. Lucero also made no mention of the survey that was posted for students or what the results of that survey were. 

I believe that the BOE and superintendent along with the community can come together to be creative and find a safe option other than or in addition to virtual graduation. I feel that parents should also be included in the decision that is being made. I understand that it is completely off the table to have a traditional graduation due to our current reality. That being said, there are so many options out there that follow social distancing guidelines and are safe, such as drive-through graduation, drive-by parade, postponing until August or December, or simply just having small groups of graduates come at different times over the course of a few days with two parents or family members and allowing them to walk across the stage. These in-person events would be more meaningful and personal than virtual graduation and provide the closure that the class of 2020 never received. These events do not have to replace the planned virtual graduation, because I understand not everyone may be able to participate in them, but I believe the vast majority of the class would be in favor of holding these events at some point. 

Considering the availability of so many other options, it is really disheartening to feel that the superintendent and BOE took a special moment in our lives and appear to have just swept it under the rug. I hope that they will reconsider and allow students, parents, and principals to be a part of making a choice that will properly commemorate the Class of 2020, which virtual graduation will not suffice. The second semester of our senior year, arguably the best period of our lives, was taken away from us. The class of 2020 will not be able to experience Spring Sports, Senior Night, Prom, Graduation, and so many other events. The fact that all of this may be replaced by virtual graduation is upsetting. This is a special moment in our lives and academic careers, and we deserve to be celebrated in a way that honors us.