Amid the coronavirus pandemic, one New Hampshire drive-in theater is offering a unique twist on graduation ceremonies that would otherwise be canceled.
The new owners of the Northfield Drive-In in Winchester are doing everything they can to try and save graduation season.
“It has weathered the test of time, it truly has,” said owner Julia Wiggin.
And this time, that test is unlike any other.
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“This is different,” she said. “COVID has opened this up to be a place that people can gather safely.”
Instead of preparing the Northfield Drive-In for its first movie showing of the season, Wiggin and her husband, Steve, are opening up for graduation ceremonies that were initially canceled because of coronavirus.
“We’re just hoping we can help out,” Mr. Wiggin said.
Local students are thankful.
Like most schools, Pioneer Valley Regional High School in Northfield, Massachusetts, cancled its traditional graduation ceremony.
“It was heart-crushing, we looked forward to it for so long,” said Pioneer Valley Senior Sydney Unaitis.
And now they still can, because on June 4, Pioneer Valley will celebrate graduation night at the 72-year-old drive-in movie theater.
“We did not want to do just a virtual graduation,” said Superintendent John Scagel. “We wanted to make something much more special for them.”
This will be special – but certainly different.
To maintain social distancing there will only be one car allowed per post. One by one, students will receive their diplomas at a stage up front, while the ceremony is projected on the big screen.
“We’re going to make sure our facilities are up to snuff, 100 percent, so that everyone is really safe,” Julia Wiggin said.
For the class of 2020, it’s a new kind of celebration at one of the oldest movie venues in the nation.
“I’m glad we are able to come together in this momentous, exciting, once in a lifetime kind of way,” said senior Ella Potee.
“It’s more than we could’ve ever asked for in this situation,” said Unaitis.
With more than a dozen already scheduled, the Wiggins says they’re getting graduation requests every day and they’re trying to accommodate everyone.