A Letter To The BOE Regarding Graduation

A Letter To The BOE Regarding Graduation

The 2020 Class Officers of SHS, AITE, and WHS

To Dr. Lucero, the Board of Education, and the city of Stamford,

COVID-19 has brought the United States, including Connecticut, into uncharted territory. Livelihoods have been ruined, essential workers are overburdened, and people are sick. This isn’t our opinion, it’s the truth. These circumstances call for change and compromise, and although we fully understand that, we must be sure to not be too rash with the decisions we make.

We are seniors from the Academy of Information Technology and Engineering, Stamford High School, and Westhill High School. Most of us have never attended a private school. We spent the thirteen most formative years of our lives within Stamford Public Schools. It’s been a great time! We have put in hard work, time, and energy into our studies, athletics, and other extracurriculars. We have made lifelong friends and connections with faculty members that have made us better people. And all of it was cut short. We can’t thank the Board of Education enough for providing such an effective education to such a diverse and large student body. And we know that the Board of Education has one objective that is (and should be) prioritized above all others: safety.

An online graduation would undoubtedly be safe. That said, we think it is far too early to decide on having an online ceremony in June over the alternatives. As time goes on, we believe there is more and more cause to have hope. New studies are being released every week suggesting that thousands, or even hundreds of thousands, of Americans have already developed antibodies. Numbers reported by Worldometers indicate that over 98 percent of coronavirus victims only experience mild symptoms. Door-to-door testing is becoming more widespread, and Oxford University brought a vaccine to human trials over two weeks ago. It should be noted that none of this is intended to minimize the threat of this virus. It has been an international catastrophe. But all of this information does lead us to be hopeful.

This hope, in addition to the fact that hair salons, restaurants, and even the mall are all set to open in less than a week, is what leads us to request a postponement of our graduation—an hour-long event that means so much to so many. At the least, the seniors of SPS deserve to have a socially distanced graduation. Graduations could be held at Boyle Stadium, J. Walter Kennedy Stadium, and for AITE, traditionally it is held in the Rippowam Auditorium, but instead host the event at the Rippowam Middle School football field, an outdoor location. Each of these locations has enough room for students to properly distance themselves 6-10 feet apart and provide safe measures for the reception of their diplomas.

The parents, students, teachers, and administrators of all the schools are willing to help. We all want a common goal: a safe, equitable, and honorable graduation for our seniors. For many members of the Class of 2020, this will be their only opportunity to walk across the stage and commemorate their academic work. Simply put, a virtual graduation will not do these students justice. The recent petition is evidence of where most of the sentiment in this city lies, and we should do our utmost to make it a reality. And we believe it can be achieved—at least, as long as there is no second wave.

The next six weeks are extremely unknown and will continue to be uncharted territory. We understand that another spike or second wave of cases could easily be means to deny the seniors an in-person graduation. But, as of right now, we remain optimistic, and only ask that any significant decision be delayed.

Please consider our request. We’re happy that you are now making an effort to take input, with the surveys, updates, and meetings. Please continue to honor the seniors properly. We’re all in this together.

Sincerely,

The Officers of Stamford Public Schools’ Class of 2020