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May 13, 2020
WOLFEBORO — The last day of school for all Governor Wentworth Regional School District students is June 5. The School Board met virtually on May 11 to make decisions for the close of the school year, including the weighty decision of how to give the seniors of the Class of 2020 the best sendoff possible in a year where their last year of school was abruptly cut short by the dangers posed by Covid-19.

The board settled on the June 5 closing date in consideration that the number of required school hours was met and of the parents, teachers and students who have been meeting the challenges of on line schooling since mid March.

With restrictions in force state-wide on group gatherings, after much deliberation, the decision was made to plan a virtual graduation. A first for everyone involved, the SAU administration, Kingswood Regional High School Principal Guy Donnelly, class advisors and student council members have come up with a creative solution that sounds as if it will serve the students and their families well.

The event will be held at Castle in the Clouds, a venue that received the top number of votes by a wide margin of the student council members, on Saturday, June 13 (rain date June 14). A 40-foot screen has been reserved on which to play out every traditional element of the graduation ceremony. The ceremony will take place at 8:30 in the evening for the viewing comfort of the families, who will be able to watch from the comfort of their cars in a field large enough to accommodate over 250 vehicles.

Details are developing on the photographing of every student, possibly the morning of the event, for the video that will play across the 40 foot screen. Superintendent Kathy Cuddy-Egbert told the board that the plan is to have students' photos in traditional cap and gown appear as Donnelly calls their name. Pomp and Circumstance and the traditional music will be included as well. Students may also become involved in adding signs and decorations, and unique decorations for their cars.

"Give me the venue, and we will make it work," said Donnelly.

"I feel it can be special once we get over the emotion of it not being all the same," he added, speaking to the Board.

"We're making lemonade out of lemons," said School Board member Dr. Jim Manning, expressing the prevailing sentiment.

"I'll miss the face to face," commented Chairman Jack Widmer, "but it's the right thing to do."

Ossipee representative Dana Streeter said he appreciated all the work that has gone into creating a memorable graduation and said he felt parents "will be happy when they see the complete plan."

More ideas are coming into play to honor the seniors, such as offering a clay mortar board to each student when caps and gowns are handed out upon which students can express their thoughts and feelings. The boards will be fired and then mounted on the school hallway walls to remember the Class of 2020. It's all still evolving, always with thoughts of making the event one for this truly historic school year.

Varney Smith
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