This Vt. High School Graduation Will Take Three Days

The ceremony is being stretched through Wednesday so each student can have an individual send-off while observing physical distancing

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High schools across the country are honoring the Class of 2020 in creative ways while traditional graduation ceremonies have been called off due to COVID-19.

In Burlington, Vermont, the high school graduation will take three days.

Monday was graduation day. Tuesday will be, too. And so will Wednesday.

The city’s high school went with a three-day ceremony because it determined that’s how long it would take to give each of the more than 200 BHS seniors their individual send-offs in this era of physical distancing.

"We just wanted to do as much as we could to have more of a personal feel to our event," said Noel Green, the principal of Burlington High School.

The BHS seniors have appointments spaced three minutes apart.

Their families, limited to one car to keep numbers low to avoid spreading the virus, drop off their grads and stay in the vehicle to watch while the teens get a procession all their own in full garb.

Then, the graduates receive a flower and a scroll, pose for a photo, and get some masked facetime with school counselors, the principal, and other school leaders.

Finally, with a gloved hand, the students ring the BHS bell, which is a longstanding graduation tradition.

After they rejoin their families in their cars and drive off, the next honoree comes through.

"It meant a lot to still be recognized, even though we’re in the midst of something really challenging, that they made such a big effort to recognize us as individuals," said 2020 Burlington graduate Helen Argraves, who will attend the University of Vermont in the fall.

"People are going to study [the Class of 2020] in history, in like, 20 years or something, so at least we’re part of history," predicted another Burlington grad, Hawa Abdi, who will attend Simmons University in the fall.

After the three-day-long ceremony, Thursday is additionally set aside for the production of a video presentation of the event.

Speeches from the city’s mayor, superintendent, and others will be taped and shown as part of the video to the Class of 2020 next week, according to a district spokesperson.

It certainly wasn't the ceremony these Burlington Seahorses imagined before the pandemic, but it is one they’ll remember long after.

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