SULLIVAN — Hopefully under clear skies, Sumner Memorial High School’s 2020 class of 46 seniors, wearing gowns and caps, will step up onto a stage and receive their diplomas as scheduled on Thursday, June 11. The rain date is Saturday-Sunday, June 13-14.
At the latest Graduation Events Forum held via Zoom on May 14, Sumner Principal Ty Thurlow outlined a sketch plan for the commencement, which will run from 12:30 to 7 p.m., and take place outdoors on the soccer field. Inside a big tent, two seniors, each allowed a maximum of nine guests — both parties distanced — will take turns mounting a stage to receive their diploma. They then will proceed to the high school’s front lawn for family photo sessions in a tent.
“The core tenet of what we are trying to maintain is safety for all,” Thurlow stressed, in accordance with the Maine Department of Education guidelines. The guidelines specify that social gatherings be limited to 50 people and cloth face masks must be worn in all public settings.
In preparation for the ceremony, the seniors are picking time slots as well as the classmate whom they want to be paired with. They also are being asked to provide a list of their guests as well as the make/model of one or two vehicles that will transport the parties onto and off campus. Vehicle tags and instructions will be mailed in advance.
For the graduation ceremony, the Class of 2020’s advisors, Erin Shanahan and Tom Hart, are consulting the seniors about who they would like to present diplomas.
Sumner educational technician Gabby Coniglio, who has event-planning experience, was asked and will lead the campus decorating initiative.
The high school driveway’s traditional exit will serve as the entrance and vice versa to smooth the traffic flow from Route 1 and around the driveway circling the Sumner building. Sumner staff, Maine State Police, the Hancock County Sheriff’s Office and possibly the Sullivan Fire Department will assist with security and traffic control.
At their assigned time, pairs of seniors will arrive with their guests and park at opposite ends of the parking lot facing the soccer field. The two parties will enter the tent from opposite sides and will be directed to sit distanced from one another. In a ceremony that will last about 15 minutes, the presenter will read a brief narrative about the student and then present his or her diploma.
After the ceremony, the two parties will leave the tent from opposite sides and proceed, if they choose, for group photos in a tent on Sumner’s front lawn. As a backdrop for the 15-minute photo sessions, You Name It! screen printing is created a colorful series of giant panels featuring photos of all the 2020 grads.
For all those well-wishers who cannot attend the graduation, Hancock County Technical Center’s multimedia teacher Jamie Anderson plans to film while Chris Popper of WDEA radio will broadcast live the entire event.