MAU to host 'drive-by' graduation

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BENNINGTON — Graduation plans are in the works for Mount Anthony Union High School's Class of 2020.

At the MAU board meeting on Wednesday night, high school principal Stephen Nixon revealed what the school has been working on to prepare a graduation that will be much different than anything ever held before.

"Graduation is a moving target," Nixon told the board. "We've had different guidance from the [Agency of Education], we've changed plans several times, then got new AoE guidance on Monday."

The tentative plan, which should be finalized on Friday afternoon, will be a drive-by graduation. The event is tentatively scheduled to run on June 12 from 6 to 8 p.m., but that time is contingent on testing out whether our not it can work in a two-hour timeframe.

"We'll have them line up in the CDC (senior) parking lot and line up the cars around the building," Nixon explained.

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The student and their families will then drive into the circle in front of the school, which will have a tent and platform set up. The graduate will get out, their name will be read over the public address system, along with the announcement of senior awards they've received. At the same time, everyone is expected to try and social distance.

"We're working on a slideshow as well, with the names and awards to recognize the students," Nixon said.

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Students would come on the makeshift stage wearing a mask, and diplomas would be passed out in plastic bags.

"Safety comes first and [the administration] has really been working at it," said MAU board member Dave Fredricksen. "I haven't heard anything better [than a drive-by graduation]."

Usually, the school board has a major role in graduation, handing out diplomas to graduates. That will likely not happen this year.

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"Our role will be limited. They said that having fewer people involved is better and while the board is important, it ranks behind the principal and the other administrators," Fredricksen said.

Schools around the country are doing virtual graduations, but Nixon said that wasn't a good option for the size of the senior class.

"We didn't think a virtual graduation would work," Nixon said. "We have 203 students and we thought that would be hard to manage.

The administration are also purchasing yard signs for every senior and they are also working with the town of Bennington to hang some banners in the area of the Four Corners on Main Street.

"It's the best we can do in this situation," Nixon said.


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