Wilton school board is ready for ‘celebratory’ graduation
WILTON — It was a gathering of good news at the Board of Education Monday night.
Despite canceling a traditional commencement ceremony due to the coronavirus pandemic, Wilton High School’s class of 2020 is expected to have a notable and special graduation.
Owing to the loosening of state restrictions, principal Robert O’Donnell said students will now have the chance to actually receive a diploma cover outside of their cars, appear on an outdoor stage at the high school, and have their photos taken.
“I think under all the circumstances … we’ve put together a really thoughtful celebratory way to say ‘We love you, kids,’ The students will have the opportunity … to have their name called out as they cross the stage,” he said.
The graduates will also have a professional photo opportunity on an outdoor stage.
As a special gesture, high school staff and parents went around town on Tuesday and hand-delivered each student’s diploma, as well as their cap and gown.
“Each senior had a parent and a Wilton High School staff member show up on their door step,” O’Donnell said, generating a lot of positive feedback from families.
O’Donnell highly praised the school board for its support in organizing the graduation, saying he had sent each member a “heartfelt and appreciative” invite to the graduation event.
Graduation festivities will begin on Saturday, June 14 at 1 p.m. at Allen’s Meadows, where graduates and their families will form a caravan and parade through town before finishing at the high school.
Valedictory and other speeches have been recorded and may be seen on YouTube beginning at 10 a.m. on Saturday.
In case of rain, all events will be held on Sunday, June 14.
A special education overview presentation at the school board meeting also received praise.
“We are just amazed at what we did,” said Sharon DeAngelo, assistant director of special services, outlining the success of work with preschoolers during this season of eLearning.
“The zoom meetings for preschool were just a ton of fun,” she said, calling elementary portfolios of pride “amazing.”
Saying he sometimes wondered why it was called “special education,” board Vice Chair Glenn Hemmerle said, “You guys are special. On behalf of the board, I can’t thank you enough.”
Schools Superintendent Kevin Smith praised Andrea Leonardi, assistant superintendent of special services, for her leadership.
He quoted her as saying when the schools shut down, “‘If we do nothing else, we’ll have stronger relationships with our families.’ And in subsequent days she repeated that and repeated that and repeated that,” he said.
“The staff, I think, heeded that call in spades,” he said.
“Quite frankly, I think that all of the departments across the district … have a lot to learn from special ed,” Chairman Deborah Low said.
“We’re all truly grateful for your work,” Smith said.
In other news, Low said 525 signatures and several petition letters were received from a wide age-range of Wilton graduates about “experiences and curriculum that failed to recognize systemic racism.”
“Dr. Smith has started steps to address the issues,” she said.
“We’ve heard them,” Smith said, “and there’s a lot of work to do and we’re thrilled that they’re going to partner with us in that work.”