High schools plan for in-person graduations

  • Graduates toss their caps in their after receiving their diplomas during Concord High School's Class of 2019 Commencement on Saturday, June 15, 2019. Caitlin Andrews

  • Concord High School graduate Hamza Abdulrahman waves to a teacher as he lines up for the 2020 graduation for the Commons B at Memorial Field on Saturday, June 13,2020.

Monitor staff
Published: 6/2/2021 5:18:13 PM

Concord High graduates will have two tickets to give to family to sit in the bleachers at Memorial Field on June 19. More family members can come, but they’ll have to watch from outside the fence.

Hopkinton’s ceremony is returning to its normal location at the Durgin Arena on the town fairgrounds where graduates can invite four guests.

Bow High School and Pembroke Academy are both holding their graduations at the Fisher Cat Stadium in Manchester for the second year in a row to allow for more guests and better social distancing. Pembroke is allowing seniors four guests, while Bow is allowing six.

Over at Hillsborough-Deering they are going big, as graduates will be allowed eight guests to attend an outdoor ceremony at the high school.

Throughout the Concord area, high schools have shaped and reshaped their graduation ceremonies this year to hold in-person events to celebrate the achievements of graduating seniors at the end of a turbulent school year transformed by COVID-19. The plans vary from school to school, but in every case, some COVID restrictions remain.

“It’s both rewarding and a relief,” Concord High School principal Michael Reardon said Wednesday about graduation. “We’re starting, with the rest of the community, to get back to normal, and this is a good time to celebrate what has been a difficult experience for us all.”

Many schools are opting to hold this year’s ceremony on their own athletic fields. Bow High School and Pembroke Academy usually hold their graduation ceremonies on their own campuses, but each moved to the Fisher Cat’s stadium in 2020 to get a bigger space.

Many schools are grouping attendees in “pods” so families can sit together while distancing from others. At Kearsarge Regional High School, graduates will be divided into four groups for the ceremonial march that will correspond with the location of their family’s pods on the football field. As students march by in the smaller groups, families will have a good view of their graduate and a photo opportunity, according to principal Charles Langille.

Schools differ in their approach to COVID-19 protocols at the ceremonies – some are requiring masks for everyone, others are suggesting them when social distancing isn’t possible. Concord High School is planning for the bleacher seating at Memorial Field to be a masked and distanced area for ticket-bearing attendees, with an alternative option of viewing the ceremony from outside the football field fence where masks are recommended, but won’t be enforced. Reardon said the periphery viewing is to allow more guests to attend, and also give families options when it comes to COVID-19 protocols.

“If you want to use your two tickets for the bleachers, what you’re saying is that’s a good place where I know I will be distanced and everybody will have masks on,” Reardon said. “We are allowing an unlimited number of people to come in on the periphery of the fence. We want to have as many people there as want to come, but we also want to have an area where safety protocols are enforced.”

Here are the graduation details and safety protocols for various area high schools:

Belmont High School:

Graduation will be held June 11 at 6 p.m., outdoors at the high school’s lower soccer field. Graduates will be seated three feet apart from one another, wearing masks. Students are allowed to invite five guests each, who will be seated together in “pods” painted on the ground. The event will be livestreamed by DP Production Group.

Bishop Brady High School

Graduation will be held June 11 at 6:45 p.m., outdoors at the high school in Concord. Students will be seated three feet apart, and families will each have their own “pod” areas for viewing. The ceremony will be livestreamed on the school Facebook page.

Bow High School:

Graduation will be held June 11 at 1 p.m. at the Northeast Delta Dental Fisher Cat Stadium in Manchester. Students are allowed to invite six guests each. The school will be following the COVID protocols of the stadium and the city of Manchester.

Concord High School

Graduation will be held on June 19 at 10 a.m. at Memorial Field in Concord. Students are allowed two guests each, who can sit in bleachers at Memorial Field, where masks and social distancing will be required and enforced. All other guests can view the ceremony from outside the field’s fence, where masking and distancing is also encouraged, but will not be enforced. The ceremony will be livestreamed by ConcordTV.

Hopkinton High School

Graduation will be held on June 18 at 6 p.m. in the Durgin Arena at the Hopkinton Fair Grounds. Graduates and faculty will be seated six feet apart on the floor of the arena. Students are allowed four guests each, who will be in randomly assigned seating on alternating rows in the arena’s bleachers. The event will also be livestreamed.

Hillsboro-Deering High School

Graduation will be held on June 11 at 6 p.m. in an outdoor tent at the high school. Students are allowed eight guests each for tent seating, and there will be additional seating outside. Students and staff will be wearing masks. The school is recommending masks for guests as well, but they are not required.

John Stark Regional High School:

Graduation will be held on June 12 at 10 a.m., outdoors at the high school in Weare. Only ticketed guests are permitted to attend. Students and guests will sit in pods marked on the field. Masks are required when social distancing isn’t possible.

Kearsarge Regional High School

Graduation will be held on June 12 at 1 p.m. outdoors on the school football field. Students are allowed six guests each, who will be seated together in family “pods.” The event will also be livestreamed.

Merrimack Valley High School

Graduation will be held on June 12 at 10 a.m., outdoors at the high school athletic stadium. Attendees are asked to wear masks and maintain physical distancing, in accordance with school district policy. Graduates will be spaced three feet apart.

Pembroke Academy

Graduation will be held on June 8 at 5:30 p.m. at the Northeast Delta Dental Fisher Cat Stadium in Manchester. Students are is allowed four guests each. All guests will be asked COVID-19 screening questions upon arrival, and masks and social distancing will be required and enforced by stadium staff.

Pittsfield High School

Graduation will be held on June 12 at 10 a.m. at the school gymnasium. Tickets will be limited to reduce the gym’s capacity to 50%. Masks and social distancing will be required for attendees, who will be seated in family blocks with established traffic flow patterns.




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