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Norwich, Stonington, Waterford schools get creative to allow in-person graduation experiences amid pandemic

New London

WATERFORD, Conn. (WTNH)– It was a different sort of cap and gown pick up at Norwich Free Academy.

This year seniors also get a Wildcats lawn sign and they stay in their car to social distance.

“It’s nice to see familiar faces after pretty long time not seeing them,” said NFA senior Digby Ludlow.

NFA like other schools has had to get creative to give students an in-person graduation experience. 

The ceremony next Thursday, at the traditional time of 4 o’clock, will take place at Dodd Stadium and the nearly 600 students will watch a video on two huge LED screens from their cars.

“That includes all the speeches, all of the readings of the names, and pictures of the kids. The singing of the Alma mater,” said NFA Spokesperson Michael O’Farrell.

“It’s all so new to us, no one has ever been through this before and so I appreciate all the work they’re putting into this,” said NFA senior Noah McMahon.

“We’re going to have one screen that’s gonna be over in the far parking lot,” explained Chris Regan, of Olde Mistick Village, which will be hosting Stonington High School’s graduation. 

Cars will park every other spot and students can set up chairs to the left of their car. 

There will be two huge screens and a stage, plus each senior gets a gift bag from merchants in the village.

“I think it’s gonna create memories for the students and make it special for them, which is awesome,” said Regan.

Waterford High School’s Class of 2020 will be graduating at the town beach parking lot.  

A stage will be set up in the field with the Eugene O’Neill Theater in the background. 

“We’ll have all the traditional speeches that we would normally have,” said Waterford Superintendent of Schools Tom Giard. “We look to recognize students in a meaningful way.”

That graduation is scheduled for June 18, which is when it would traditionally take place on the last day of classes. But senior activities begin the Friday before with a drive through event at the high school when seniors will do other traditional things like sign the big rock.

A twist on tradition each town hopes will create unique and treasured memories. 

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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