Graduates of Madison Area Memorial High School prepare for ceremonies on June 1, 2018. This year’s Class of 2020 will have a scaled-back ceremony Friday morning for the 40 graduating seniors because of the coronavirus pandemic restrictions on gatherings. Michael G. Seamans/ Morning Sentinel file

The graduating classes at both Madison Area Memorial High School and Carrabec High School will be able to get together one last time to celebrate their accomplishments in scaled-back fashion on Friday.

Madison High School Principal Christopher LeBlanc said that after careful consideration with the administrative team and faculty, that they would try to uphold some of their typical graduation festivities as best they can.

Beginning at 10 a.m. Friday, the senior class, of about 40, will meet in the high school’s gymnasium, where scholarships will be announced, speeches will be given out, and special recognitions announced.

“It’s a small class, so we’re able to do this,” LeBlanc said. “What we’ve done is taking Class Night/final assembly and mixed them together to give the kids an experience that is as close to what we’ve done in the past.”

At Carrabec High School, which serves students in Anson, Embden, New Portland, North Anson and Solon, Principal Timothy Richards said that graduation will be held on its originally scheduled date of Friday.

The ceremony, Richards said, will begin at 8 a.m. and end around 1:30. Graduates will march in groups of two, with each student allowed to have six guests with them. Upon entering the gym, students will receive their diplomas, turn their tassel and have their photo taken.

Carrabec High school has 45 graduating seniors; more than $42,000 will be given out in scholarships.

In Madison, all events will be recorded and shared with the community through the local news channel.

LeBlanc says that among the many awards being handed out, there will be $150,000 in scholarships distributed.

“We’re very fortunate to be able to give out $150,000 in scholarships for a small school,” he said. “These kids should be very appreciative of the generosity of our community and the people that have left money. It’s quite a large amount of money to be giving to our kids.”

Other recognitions include announcing the top 10, National Honors Society students, top students in each department, valedictorian, salutatorian, class president and a farewell speech presented by a junior to the graduating class. The ceremony, which will include only the senior class and a few administrators, is expected to wrap up around 11:30 a.m., where a luncheon will be offered with safety measures in place. Because of the small class, LeBlanc says there will be no issues maintaining the 50-person gathering limit mandated by the state of Maine to ward against spreading coronavirus.

What will be different from previous years, LeBlanc said, is the layout of the gymnasium. Typically, students are seated next to each other on a stage for graduation and other activities. This year, students will be spread out across the gymnasium to maintain social distancing requirements.

Later on in the afternoon, beginning at 4 p.m., students will be able to walk into the gymnasium, one-by-one, with up to 10 family members, where they can march in and be presented their diplomas. The students will enter through the gymnasium entrance and exit through a separate door to avoid possible collisions. LeBlanc expects each student to be inside the gymnasium for about three minutes.

“We thought about doing it in groups, but it just adds another dynamic to it,” LeBlanc said. “Somebody is always going to be left out and we just decided that one was better. Regardless of what we do, I support what every other high school has chosen.”

Making this decision was difficult, LeBlanc says, as he and his team considered many options, including having an event at the Skowhegan Fairgrounds as well as drive-in options.

“Even though we entertained several different options, this was the one we felt we could get the most out of what we normally do,” he said. “Every option we considered had its own pros and cons, even this option. Some people are happy, some wished we did other things and some think we’re doing more than other schools.”

Though this is as close as the school can get to a traditional graduation ceremony, LeBlanc does acknowledge that the faculty are not able to attend these events. However, at the graduation ceremony in the evening, the class advisers will be handing out diplomas as having them there would not exceed the 50-person maximum.

“It’s unfortunate that teachers and kids are not going to be able to share the class experience, but again, we’re following guidelines,” LeBlanc said. “That is why I felt that the senior advisers who have been with those kids for their four years can at least be able to present their diplomas. It’s little, but it’s an attempt for them to be able to be a part of it.”

Similar to Madison, Carrabec’s graduation will be recorded and shared with the community afterward. All speeches will be pre-recorded. Facemasks will be required at the ceremony, Richards said.

Chairs will be set up in the gym and spread out so that families can safely distance themselves. When graduates exit, custodial staff will come in and sanitize everything for the next group.

“It’s the most that we can do given the situation,” Richards said.

Throughout the week, Richards said that Carrabec has held multiple events for students, including a banquet for the top 10 students on Monday evening, an honors banquet on Tuesday, and a class night on Wednesday evening.

“There was a big push from the class that they wanted to do class night as a class,” Richards said. “I think the class has handled themselves very well. They are a very mature group and they fully understand the situation.”

“I am very proud of them,” Richards said. “These students have worked very hard, given the circumstances.”

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