Wilton High School graduation plans: a playlist and a parade
WILTON — It’s going to look a little different, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be grand with pomp and celebration.
On Thursday, the Board of Education unanimously approved plans for the Wilton High School graduation ceremony on Saturday, June 13, which will center on a caravan drive and finale event under the bridge in front of the school.
“We’ve been working on a major plan that includes three major prongs,” Principal Robert O’Donnell told the board on May 28. They include a virtual graduation ceremony that will feature videotaped speeches, a car procession culminating at the high school, and “also just some really nice plans for follow-up photo opportunities for families to be able to immortalize the experience” at a later time.
Three high school seniors who participated on the planning committee — including Patrick Burke, Madeline Pennino, and Rishabh Raniwala — made a virtual appearance before the board.
“We put a lot of time and effort into a plan that [includes] as many special elements as possible,” Raniwala said, noting the hope was to go above and beyond what would normally be taking place in a graduation ceremony to help make it special.
“We’re still working on getting the route set,” Burke said, with signs for each senior placed along the route and a music set list played through Spotify that will include class favorites mixed with ceremonial songs.
“The idea is that we’re going to end under the bridge,” he said, at the high school, where administrators will hand diplomas to students in their cars, which by then will form two separate lines.
“We may have speakers underneath the bridge where a pre-recorded version of Pomp and Circumstance will play,” Raniwala said.
Pennino said a lot of different ideas were considered — every idea they heard about from around the country, in fact — and were gone over by the committee.
“We were not able to get a social-distancing plan approved,” she said, nor was a drive-in movie theater graduation a viable alternative.
“We wanted to do something where we could be all together,” she said.
According to O’Donnell, the plan has been approved by Chief of Police John Lynch and First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice.
“To achieve approval for our plan,” he said in a May 26 letter to families, “we have assured them that our students and families will stay in their cars and adhere to all prescribed guidelines during the procession.”
Students are asked not to drive themselves in the cars, affording them the opportunity to fully enjoy the parade, though they’re asked to be in the front seat to receive their diploma cover by hand from a school official at the high school.
“The exact route will be announced shortly, pending further police review,” O’Donnell wrote, and they are asking for a limit of one car per family.
“It’s also a really amazing way for the whole town to get involved,” Pennino said, with residents invited to write messages in driveways and on roadsides in chalk, and to come out to their lawns to wave.
“The back-up plan would be Sunday,” O’Donnell said, noting confirmation is being sought from vendors to be sure it’s a viable rain date.
“We’ve got a little bit more work to do,” he said, “but we’re going to hope June 13 is really, really nice and it’s a perfect weather day for the kids and the families.”
The virtual ceremony will be recorded and/or streamed for viewing before or after the car procession.
“We’re gonna make it a really good day for the kids,” O’Donnell said.
Meanwhile, other principals confirmed that different graduation-type events are being planned at their respective schools.
“On June 8 we are going to have a caravan for our eighth grade,” said Lauren Feltz, Middlebrook School principal, with three waves of family-filled cars driving past the school.
“It’s a no-stop event,” she said. “Kids just drive through and see their teachers, and we’re very excited to show them how much we miss them and how excited we are about their transition.”
Another caravan is planned for Cider Mill School, though school officials did not provide a date. Principal Jennifer Falcone said they would also be having both a virtual art show and field day to end the year.
Finally Miller-Driscoll School will host several online events, including a picnic for second graders on June 5 that will feature a virtual magician.
“We have some really fun links for some things we’ll be doing,” principal Kathryn Coon said.
“We’re really excited.”