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July 6, 2020
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The Branford High School (BHS) Class of 2020 will graduate in a unique, two-day event that will include a livestream video ceremony the first day, followed by a drive-up procession at BHS (shown here) done in four waves, with graduates in caps and gowns leaving their decorated vehicles four at a time to receive diplomas on the BHS football field.

Photo by Pam Johnson/The Sound

The Branford High School (BHS) Class of 2020 will graduate in a unique, two-day event that will include a livestream video ceremony the first day, followed by a drive-up procession at BHS (shown here) done in four waves, with graduates in caps and gowns leaving their decorated vehicles four at a time to receive diplomas on the BHS football field. (Photo by Pam Johnson/The Sound | Buy This Photo)

Livestream Ceremony, Decorated Vehicles & Safely-Distanced Diplomas: Branford Class of 2020 Graduation is June 14 - 15 at BHS

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The Branford High School (BHS) Class of 2020 will graduate in a unique, two-day event that will include a livestream video ceremony the first day, followed by a drive-up procession done in four waves, with graduates in caps and gowns leaving their decorated vehicles four at a time to receive diploma cases from administrators and Board of Education (BOE) officials on the BHS football field.

A Class of 2020 graduation program will be emailed to each student before June 14. The graduation events will take place on Sunday, June 14 and Monday, June 15. During the conferring of diplomas, the 264 members of the BHS Class of 2020 will be divided by last names into morning and afternoon groups which will be given a one-hour window to allow safe distribution of diplomas handed out on the BHS stadium field behind the school. The BHS Class of 2020 Moving of the Tassel will take place at 6 p.m.  on June 15 as a live streaming video to allow all graduates to participate at the same time.

BHS Principal Lee Panagoulias announced the graduation program tailored to COVID-19 protocols in a four-page letter issued on May 28 to families and faculty.

"Over the past two months, we have received input from students through surveys, focus groups, and individual conversations. Parents have also reached out to us through email and phone calls. We truly appreciate everyone's thoughts and suggestions about how best to honor this year's graduating class. A consistent theme of these conversations was our collective commitment to celebrating the Class of 2020 and making this a special, meaningful and memorable experience," Panagoulias wrote.

On Sunday, June 14 at 6 p.m., the traditional graduation ceremony will air as a video presentation posted at the BHS website (http://www.branfordschools.org/o/bhs) at 6 p.m.  It will also be available to view after June 14 at the site. The program will include speeches from Superintendent of Schools Hamlet Hernandez and BOE chair Shannen Sharkey as well as the BHS Class of 2020 President, Faculty Speaker, Senior advisors recognition, and special awards including the Valedictorian, Salutatorian, and Faculty Key Award winner.

On Monday, June 15, 2020, graduates in caps and gowns and arriving in appropriately decorated vehicles of standard size will participate in the Conferring of Diplomas. Two waves of graduates will be arriving in the morning and two in the afternoon; followed by the collective BHS Class of 2020 Moving of the Tassel at 6 p.m., which will be livestreamed. Raindate for the event will be Tuesday, June 16.

Panagoulias shared a detailed plan for the safe distribution of diplomas. As a car arrives at the BHS entrance, it will be directed to approach the BHS football field. Four cars at a time will be directed to pull up to a designated spot in front of field.  The BHS senior will exit the car wearing a mask, proceed to an "X" on the football field; and two adults wearing masks may also exit to observe from outside of their car. Graduates will proceed to one of four small, safely-spaced stages on field, where they will be received by a member of the building, district administration, or BOE chair, and a photographer (graduates must wear a face mask at all times, but will have the option to remove their mask when their picture is taken).  At the stage, the graduate will pick up their diploma case, walk across the stage, and have their picture taken; before proceeding directly to their car and drive to a spot where their diploma will be delivered for them to insert in their diploma case.

Families will receive large, non-transferable tickets with the graduate's name and their wave; which must be displayed in the front dashboard of each vehicle. Tickets are not transferable to other families. The process begins at 9 a.m. with the Red Wave (last names A-C); followed at 10:30 a.m. by the Blue Wave (last names D-K). The afternoon will see the processions of Green Wave (last names L-P) at noon and Yellow Wave (last names Q-Z) at 1:30 p.m.

The ceremony will be livestreamed on the BPS website and will be heard on an FM radio (station to be communicated before the ceremony).

"At the time that our traditional graduation ceremony begins, signified with the ringing of the church bell on our Town Green, I will appear via live stream on the BHS website. I will give my final speech to the Class of 2020 celebrating this momentous occasion," Panagoulias wrote. "At the conclusion of my speech, I will ask our seniors to move their tassels from right to left together, and officially pronounce them graduates of Branford High School!"


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