COVID-19

A unique send-off for North Fork’s Class of 2020 at upcoming graduation ceremonies

Graduates on the North Fork will have the chance to walk across the stage and receive their diplomas in person, though the ceremonies will be a bit different amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Two back-to-back ceremonies will be held in Mattituck on June 27 starting at 9 a.m., according to high school principal Shawn Petretti.

The class of 103 will be split in half, with each graduate permitted to bring two guests.

Mr. Petretti said students were upset about being split. “They feel they should be able to graduate together and I agree,” he said. “But I remind them that graduation isn’t just about you, it’s about your parents and people who helped you get to this point. So it was very important to us that parents could be present.”

Though Mattituck students typically rent their caps and gowns, they will be allowed to keep, and thus decorate, them this year. “We’ve never allowed the caps to be decorated but this class deserves some grace in that regard,” he said.

Mr. Petretti said that changes could still be made over the next two weeks and the state could ease restrictions on the ceremonies, which are currently limited to 150 people.

“We have chairs ready to go,” in the event that happens, he said.

Mr. Petretti said they’re hoping to have a larger gathering later this summer to allow seniors to gather as an entire class and take the iconic photo in front of the high school before moving on.

District officials and valedictorian Jessica Scheer will speak at both ceremonies.

In a first for the district, the school has named two salutatorians who tied for the honor. Mr. Petretti said Kelsey Bundrick began attending Mattituck after Mercy High School closed. “She was really neck and neck with Shelby—all three were, really,” he said, adding that the students and their families were supportive of the move. “Now that we’re going to dual ceremonies, it’s interesting how that played out,” he said, noting that each ceremony will feature remarks from a salutatorian.

The second ceremony will commence after the parking lot is cleared of the first group and crews have disinfected chairs, bathrooms, podiums and other surfaces, Mr. Petretti said.

In Mattituck, a banner went up to honor this year’s graduating class. (Credit: Tara Smith)

Southold is also planning a graduation ceremony for June 27 to honor 66 graduates. High school principal Terence Rusch said the ceremony begins at 11 a.m. on the school’s athletic fields.

In Greenport, graduation day festivities will begin Sunday, June 28 at 10:30 a.m. with a graduation parade around the village and drive-in ceremony at 11:15 a.m.

Community members are invited to line the parade route, which spans Broad Street, Main Street, Front Street, Sixth Avenue, and Oak Street and families are encouraged to decorate their vehicles for the ceremony, high school principal Gary Kalish said.

The 57 graduates are asked to arrive in one vehicle with their family, where they will be parked on the track six feet apart. Seniors will be directed to sit socially distanced on the bleachers for the ceremony.

One member from the student’s family is permitted to exit the car wearing appropriate PPE, according to the graduation plan.