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Students' reactions mixed on Barrington graduation plans

BHS senior: 'other schools have figured out better solutions than this'

By Josh Bickford
Posted 5/19/20

Commencement ceremonies are usually joyous experiences, but that is not what Clio McBride is expecting with this year's Barrington High School graduation.

In a letter to school administrators, the …

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Students' reactions mixed on Barrington graduation plans

BHS senior: 'other schools have figured out better solutions than this'

Posted

Commencement ceremonies are usually joyous experiences, but that is not what Clio McBride is expecting with this year's Barrington High School graduation.

In a letter to school administrators, the BHS senior wrote that she and her friends were crushed when they saw what officials had planned for this year's event.

"Walking into a field pretty much alone without even having any friends cheering on at a distance will be a huge let down and honestly a depressing experience," she wrote.

"I know that the school administration is trying, and that this is difficult, and we appreciate that, but the current plan isn’t something that anyone is happy with."

Clio also questioned the decision to make graduates wear face masks while having their graduation photos taken.

"While I understand why we have to, that is the last thing we would want to remember this day by. It takes away any chance of a smile and will only serve as a memory of a time of loneliness and disappointment that I think we would rather forget. Seeing a slideshow of these pictures will only depress us further," she wrote.

Clio's classmate Kelly Kaon said she feels differently about the upcoming graduation ceremony. Kelly said she is trying to make the best of the difficult situation. The Barrington High School senior and student representative to the Barrington School Committee said she can understand why her classmates are frustrated with the graduation plans. But, she added, those who are organizing the event need to follow the governor's orders and keep people safe.

Kelly is a member of the BHS school improvement team and worked closely with administrators and faculty to build a plan for this year's event. She said the updated plan is actually a lot better than prior drafts, which called for the entire event to be held online. Kelly said the Josten's company, which is known for selling class rings, offered Barrington High School a 1,000-person platform on Zoom — students would log in to the graduation from their homes.

"I told them (school officials) we need a live component," Kelly said. "Students said they would not show up."

Kelly said she and other students, including Sudiksha Mallick, worked with school administrators to add the video-recorded portion of the ceremony, where students will be recorded walking across the stage in their caps and gowns as their names are announced. She also petitioned to move that part of the plan to an outdoor stage, as it had previously been set for the high school auditorium.

Kelly is hoping that some restrictions may be lifted in the near future, allowing students to walk the stage without having to wear a mask. Some students, including Clio, believe the masks will cast a shadow over the event.

"I really don't think students will boycott it (graduation) because of the masks," Kelly said, adding that her classmates can always take photos at their homes without the masks.

Kelly said students and their families need to realize that a lot of work went into planning this year's graduation ceremony. She said she is doing her best to spread that message to other students. She said she hopes her classmates will embrace the plan and participate in the event.

"I understand about students taking a stand," she said, "but for what?"

Barrington High School senior Maddie Lauria said she had heard from other student that they were upset about graduation plans and may boycott the event. But she believes the vast majority of seniors will participate: "I would be surprised if it was more than 10" who boycotted, she said.

Maddie said some of the students' frustrations stemmed from communication issues. She said seniors were upset because school officials were communicating the graduation plans with parents, but not with the students themselves. She said that issue has been addressed.

When asked how she felt about having to wear a mask for the graduation ceremony and photograph, Maddie said she did not think it was a big deal.

"I don't particularly have an issue with that," she said.

"All things considered, I am proud of how the seniors have handled this."

Maddie, who has submitted a speech that she hopes to read as part of the ceremony, said she plans to celebrate her commencement with her immediate family. She said that if restrictions are eased later this summer, she will likely get together with her extended family.

Alternatives

Clio McBride said she and other members of her class would prefer to wait until a later date to hold an official graduation ceremony, when social distancing and group size limitations have relaxed.

"I know other schools have figured out better solutions than this," Clio wrote in her letter to administrators. "Nothing we could plan can come close to the real thing that we all wish we could have, but this seems like the farthest thing from it.

"We have been waiting for years for this experience of a lifetime and that’s been robbed from us, along with all of the other activities we are supposed to have at this time. Words cannot explain how sad and disappointed we are, and a ceremony like this makes it even worse. We want something personal, fun, supportive and memorable.

"A stark ceremony like this does not do our class justice or celebrate our hard work properly. Again, I know everyone is trying their best and I appreciate the hard work people are putting in to try and make things a little better, and I hope this didn’t sound rude, but I think we are at a breaking point from the disappointment we’ve faced."

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