By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special To AllOTSEGO.com
ONEONTA – Superintendent Thomas Brindley wants to make sure that the Class of 2020 is celebrated, no matter what.
“These students really deserve it,” he said. “It breaks our hearts that we might not be able to all participate in the graduation milestones, but our mission is to put something together so that they can enjoy it.”
Since Governor Cuomo announced Friday, May 1, that New York State schools would be closed for the rest of the year, Brindley is working to try and figure out a plan for prom, graduation, the Senior Brunch and other celebrations for the class of 2020, who have already seen the cancellation of spring sports, tournaments and more.
“We’re exploring a lot of options,” he said. “Everything we do will have to be informed by state, legal and Department of Health guidelines.”
Initially, Brindley proposed a “drive-in” graduation or one where adequate social-distancing spacing would be laid out, but those soon proved to be untenable.
“When we can’t ‘police’ a crowd, it becomes problematic,” he said. “How do we physically space the cars or people rolling down their windows at a drive-in ceremony? Nothing is totally off the table, but we’re exploring other options.”
Among the top choices are a scheduled ceremony, where students would show up in small groups to receive their diplomas, or a virtual ceremony, creating a digital scrapbook of the day’s celebration.
“We’d put together the slideshow that we normally show at the Senior Brunch, and all the speeches would be recorded and played,” said Brindley. “We would show each student’s photo and list their awards when they receive their diploma, and at the end, we’d put a virtual tour of the school, since they won’t get to do a last walk-through. It’ll be a keepsake, so they could show their kids one day.”
It could also be a hybrid of both, said Brindley. “From the moment a kid registers for kindergarten, everything we do is set to culminate on graduation day,” he said. “We want to do something to
give them a good memory.”
Across the county, school superintendents are working to figure out how they can laud the class of 2020 in the era of social distancing.
“We’re surveying the students and parents on how we want to go forward,” said CCS Superintendent Bill 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.”
And Wendy Kiuber has designed yard signs to celebrate the Cooperstown Class of 2020 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.”
The mom of Ashley Kiuber, a member of the Hawkeyes girls basketball team that was headed to the state championship when Cuomo’s state of emergency cut it short, Wendy is collaborating with Colleen Donnelly, mom of Lady Hawkeye Kate Donnelly, in the undertaking.