The countdown clocks for high school seniors are finally nearing their end, and school districts are finalizing graduation plans — with many looking to offer in-person ceremonies.
Districts have embraced far more in-person events this spring compared to last year after state rules opened the door to more activities, and some large ceremonies are scheduled at the Times Union Center and Saratoga Performing Arts Center.
Some districts will mandate guests to the graduation ceremonies show proof of vaccination, a recent negative test for COVID-19 or evidence they previously recovered from the virus, following those state guidelines.
Most scheduled graduation ceremonies are clustered between June 23, when Niskayuna is scheduled for a ceremony at the Times Union Center in Albany, and June 28, when Scotia-Glenville’s ceremony is scheduled to be held at SPAC.
“Our commencement ceremony remains the culmination point of our school year and while last year’s event included both a virtual presentation and a drive-up diploma ceremony, this year we are excited to be able to have the entire senior class together for a ceremony that closely resembles our Tartan commencement,” Scotia-Glenville district officials wrote in an update last month.
The Scotia-Glenville ceremony will allow each graduate five guests — three tickets under the pavilion and two lawn seats – and everyone in attendance will be required to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test. Saratoga Springs, Ballston Spa and other districts plan to host graduations at SPAC — a longtime tradition interrupted by last year’s pandemic restrictions
Some districts were still updating graduation plans this past week, and the Schenectady City School District did not provide details about its graduation plans by the end of the week.
In plans finalized in recent days, the Greater Amsterdam School District is scheduled to host an outdoor ceremony at Shuttleworth Park on June 26, reserving the high school auditorium as a backup in the event of inclement weather.
“It has been a difficult school year once again due to COVID-19 and this makes your accomplishments as a class even more worthy of honor and celebration,” Amsterdam High School officials wrote in a recent message to graduating seniors.
Many smaller districts — Schalmont, Galway, Stillwater, Schoharie, among others — plan to host their graduations on campus, with some limiting participation so as not to require vaccine proof.
Mohonasen is pulling in some elements established during last year’s restrictions, planning to schedule students and their families in groups to walk across the high school auditorium stage over multiple days. The plan allows friends to group for the smaller ceremonies and all students will have access to professional photographers.
Districts have also scheduled numerous other events for seniors: from proms with only the “red carpet” part to a Niskayuna senior retreat to an Altamont vineyard, school leaders are looking to provide students with something memorable from the final days of their senior year — and for many students what will be the first opportunity to see most of their classmates in person.