The state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic has included restrictions on graduation ceremonies, but high schools in central Maine — namely, Winslow, Nokomis, Maine Central Institute and Erskine Academy — have come up with plans to honor graduating seniors that include parades, in-person moments within the safety guidelines, drive-up options and opportunities to say goodbye.

Winslow High School graduates take their seats June 5, 2019, for commencement ceremonies at the Harold Alfond Athletic Center at Colby College in Waterville. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel file


Seniors at Winslow High School will be honored with a parade, a virtual “class night” and a modified graduation ceremony.

Beginning at 10 a.m. on June 6, the Winslow Police and Fire departments will lead seniors on a graduation parade through the town. Students are encouraged to decorate their vehicles for the event and the community and additional family members are encouraged to stand along the parade route to honor the graduates.

The parade will begin at the Marden’s parking lot and proceed down Roderick Road, Frankwood Avenue, Smiley Avenue, Clinton Avenue, Halifax Street, Garand Street and around the high school at 20 Danielson St.

Beginning at 6 p.m. on June 8, a virtual celebration will be streamed on YouTube and Facebook Live. The celebration will include awards, scholarship announcements and a presentation of the class video.


The graduation ceremony, scheduled for June 10, will begin with a car procession around Winslow High School while “Pomp and Circumstance” is played over the speakers.

The procession of cars will end at a stage in front of Winslow Junior High School, where drivers will be asked to park 6 feet apart. Graduates will be called one by one to walk across the stage and pick up their diploma.

All students, volunteers and guests outside of their vehicles will be required to wear face masks at all times.

“While this graduation will be unlike any other we have ever done, I think we can blend some of the traditional components of graduation in a new way, while also allowing for new special additions for families to celebrate the accomplishments of their child and their peers,” Principal Chad Bell said in a statement sent to students.

Winslow High School serves Winslow students and is open to students from China and Vassalboro.




At Nokomis Regional High School in Newport, the ceremony scheduled for June 12 will be a hybrid of online and in-person celebration.

Nokomis Regional High School graduates listen June 14, 2019, during their commencement ceremony. Amy Calder/Morning Sentinel file

Graduates will be able to come to the school with no more than four guests and receive their diplomas from administrators. The graduates can then have their photo taken by a professional photographer in the gymnasium.

Superintendent Mike Hammer said the in-person portion of the ceremony will abide by strict social-distancing guidelines requiring 6 feet between each person.

Once all graduates have received their diplomas, speeches from administrators will then be live-streamed for students and families to watch from home. 

“While we will be following all of the guidelines — 50 person limit, 6 foot distancing and face masks — we hope it’ll be a very personal and special moment for our seniors,” Principal Mary Nadeau said in an email.


Nokomis is part of Regional School Unit 19, which serves Corinna, Dixmont, Etna, Hartland, Newport, Palmyra, Plymouth and St. Albans.

Maine Central Institute senior Nathan Torres used three cellphones to photograph fellow graduates before the school’s 150th commencement June 2, 2019, in Pittsfield. Morning Sentinel file


Maine Central Institute in Pittsfield is planning an online and in-person ceremony for graduates.

The online ceremony is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. on June 7 with a Zoom gathering that will present student awards, present a senior slideshow and video and include speeches from the salutatorian, valedictorian, class president, commencement speaker and head of school.

A virtual diploma ceremony will also be held during the Zoom gathering for those who cannot or choose not to pick up their diplomas in person.

After the online ceremony, graduates who would like to receive their diplomas at school will have the option to receive them during a traditional diploma ceremony at the gymnasium or through a drive-up option.


The in-person ceremony will be limited to groups of 10 students at a time. Each graduate is allowed to bring two guests to the ceremony, expected to last about 30 minutes.

At the end of each session, graduates and guests will exit the gym, allowing the next group to enter and attend its ceremony.

All attendees must wear face masks, according to Christopher McDonald, head of MCI.

“We appreciate your patience and your support as we navigate through these uncharted waters,” McDonald wrote in a letter posted on the school’s website. “Our goal has been to make this graduation the best that it possibly can be, and we feel like we have taken the time and involved the people necessary to arrive there.”

MCI serves boarding and day students, most of the latter coming from Pittsfield, Burnham and Detroit.

Madeline Geidel, center, snaps a selfie with Megan Crouse, right, and other Erskine Academy seniors June 7, 2019, before graduating at the Augusta Civic Center. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal file



Erskine Academy in China has opted for a hybrid ceremony involving online and in-person festivities.

The graduates have been divided into 12 groups. Each will be lead by its faculty adviser to the school’s stage, where students will receive diplomas from 1 p.m. to 6:45 p.m. on June 5 and June 6.

The area will be sanitized between each ceremony to ensure the safety of all who attend, according to Headmaster Michael McQuarrie.

Graduates are allowed to bring three guests to their ceremony and, according to McQuarrie, the graduates will be handed their diplomas by their guests.

The ceremony will be live-streamed through YouTube and Facebook and will include speeches, a screening of the senior video, scholarship presentations and awards.

McQuarrie said graduates have also been invited to the school June 4 to say goodbye — from a distance — to the faculty.

“One thing that’s going to be special is on Thursday evening, June 4, at 6 p.m., our full faculty and staff will line the lawn. We’ll be spaced out, of course, but we’ve invited the seniors to come say goodbye,” McQuarrie said Thursday during a telephone interview.

Erskine serves students from Chelsea, China, Jefferson, Palermo, Somerville, Vassalboro, Whitefield and Windsor.

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