By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special To AllOTSEGO.com
COOPERSTOWN – Wendy Kiuber wants to make sure that no Cooperstown senior goes unrecognized.
“As the Governor keeps extending the closures, all the parents of the seniors were just trying to figure out what we could do to support them,” said a school board member and the mother of Lady Hawkeye senior Ashley Kiuber.
She is being helped by Colleen Donnelly, mother of Kate Donnelly, another standout senior on the girls’ basketball team that was headed to the state finals when the COVID-19 state of emergency cut their season short.
After meeting with Emily Additon at The Copy Shop, Kiuber came up with the idea to design yard signs as a show of community support. “We wanted it to be a surprise for the seniors,” she said. “When they came in to pick up their packets for the week, every senior got a sign and a bumper sticker.”
With Governor Cuomo’s announcement Friday, May 1, canceling school for the rest of the year, Superintendent Bill Crankshaw is revisiting plans for the Class of 2020’s prom, graduation and other celebrations.
The seniors have already seen the cancellation of spring sports, state tournaments and more.
“We’re surveying the students and parents on how we want to go forward,” said Crankshaw. “We want them to play a part in creatively celebrating these students.”
Among the ideas being considered is a parade of the graduating seniors through downtown. “We want something that the community could enjoy from a safe distance,” he said.
Crankshaw is also considering a live graduation on the grounds of the school. “That one we have to think through carefully,” he said. “We have to work it out so we’re observing all the rules while still creating positivity.”
Across the county, school superintendents are likewise rethinking graduation in the era of social distancing.
“We’re exploring a lot of options,” said Oneonta Superintendent Thomas Brindley. “Everything we do will have to be informed by state, legal and Department of Health guidelines.”
“I’ve heard of schools doing drive-up graduations, where each student has their five minutes in the spotlight,” said Unatego Superintendent David Richards. “Other places are having the diplomas delivered door-to-door by school bus.”
Richards said he’s also had people locally suggesting using the Unadilla Drive-In as a graduation location, a suggestion he has not entirely ruled out. “We’re exploring multiple options,” he said.
In Oneonta, Brindley is deciding between a scheduled ceremony, where students would show up in small groups, or a virtual ceremony.
“We’d put together the slideshow that we normally show at the Senior Brunch, and all the speeches would be recorded and played,” he said. “We would show each student’s photo and list their awards when they receive their diploma, and at the end, we’d put a tour of the school, since they won’t get to do a last walk-through. It’ll be a keepsake.”