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Bromfield seniors will parade in June, graduate in July

High school seniors and their families who were on tenterhooks waiting for word about Bromfield graduation ceremonies got some answers this week. In a letter to families of seniors, Principal Scott Hoffman announced that graduation for the Class of 2020 will be held Friday, July 31, at 5:30 p.m., with a backup rain date and time of Sunday, August 2, at 1 p.m.

“Delaying graduation until this time gives us the best chance at a full traditional graduation or a graduation with appropriate social distancing,” Hoffman wrote.

The goal for the July ceremony, School Superintendent Linda Dwight told the School Committee Monday evening, is “to have as traditional a graduation as possible.” Among the speakers will be valedictorian Liza Toll and salutatorian Grace Acton. Other speakers have yet to be announced.

But students, families, and the town as a whole will also have a very nontraditional celebration for the Class of 2020 on the date originally planned for graduation, Friday, June 5. Each of the 87 seniors, along with family members, can take part in a car parade led by the police and fire departments, traveling around town and ending at Bromfield. There the seniors will receive their diplomas, one car at a time, and have an opportunity for photographs of themselves and their families.

Hoffman said the logistics and route for the parade are not yet final. Rather than crowding together in the center of town, spectators can cheer the parade from their driveways as the seniors wend their way through town. Hoffman advised each senior to have a designated driver, so that members of the Class of 2020 can focus on waving to onlookers and enjoying the cheers.

The parade route is expected to pass the homes of many Class of 2020 members—already recognizable by signs Hoffman and a team of Bromfield teachers and administrators posted in late April. Dwight said a jurisdiction issue was complicating efforts to include Devens in the parade route, and the school was trying to resolve it.

In developing the new plans, Hoffman explained that school administrators had consulted with parents, members and officers of the senior class, Harvard’s police and fire chiefs, and the Bromfield faculty and staff. He asked students to reserve July 29 and 30 as dates for graduation rehearsals.

Hoffman also announced that resident Robert Curran and Harvard Cable TV will create a “video yearbook” for the Class of 2020 by filming the June 5 events and prerecording graduation speeches. Each senior will also be able to film an individual segment for the video yearbook.

Seniors reflect on ‘the last hurrah’

Reacting to the announcement of the July graduation, Fiona Morrison was enthusiastic. “I think it’s great,” she said. “I’d rather wait as long as we need to, to have a real ceremony instead of one online. The Bromfield administration has been doing a great job managing senior stuff,” she added, citing the T-shirts designed for the senior-faculty basketball game. When the game had to be canceled, the students found their T-shirts had arrived in their mailboxes.

Dylan Ashe saw the unique plans for graduation as helping to make up for all that the Class of 2020 had missed. “It was really devastating not to have all the senior things, especially since I grew up in Harvard and saw those traditions with my cousins and my brother. We didn’t have spring sports as the last hurrah. So when we learned we were going to be able to have graduation … that was something special for our class.”

Raiya Suliman acknowledged she was still worried that the pandemic might interfere with graduation. “My expectations for the end of the year had been lowered far in advance of the announcement—and I obviously don’t blame anyone for the sad ending to our year,” she wrote in an email. “I was pleased by the announcement, but I’m not confident that we’ll be able to have a graduation even in July. ... It’s more of a sliver of hope that’s keeping me excited about ending my time at Bromfield. I really appreciate everything that the school and town are doing for seniors and their families, though, and we are incredibly lucky to live in such an engaged community. As for the parade—I’m excited. I’ll get to see my classmates again. It’ll be our last hurrah as the Class of 2020.”

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