Hybrid grad ceremony, open-air Starlight party offer seniors their moment as coronavirus ebbs
Seniors at the Cambridge Rindge and Latin School and the High School Extension Program will graduate next month, marking the milestone with hybrid events – including an in-person diploma ceremony at Danehy Park – that edge toward pre-pandemic routine.
In 2020, when coronavirus kept most people indoors and gatherings weren’t allowed, seniors had no prom and got a prerecorded, virtual graduation ceremony with hiccups that included some skipped names.
This year will bring an in-person party for seniors: Their exams will be held from June 1 through June 4, which is also seniors’ last day of school. That evening, a semi-formal celebration will be held at the open-air Starlight Square in Central Square.
Karaoke and caricatures
Due to Covid-19 restrictions, the celebration is limited to CRLS seniors only (no guests or non-seniors) and pre-registration is required. The event will be divided into two two-hour sessions, beginning at 5 and 7 p.m., each with a maximum of 200 guests. There will be music but no dance floor due to Covid-19 concerns.
The free event will include outdoor games and music, with organizers hoping to include karaoke, henna body art, a caricature artist, a photo booth and/or backdrops, and tarot card stations.
Graduates are encouraged to dine before or after the celebration; a number of Cambridge restaurants offer specials to graduating seniors.
Cambridge Public Schools will hold two optional in-person graduation events this year.
The High School Extension Program will hold its graduation ceremony at 6 p.m. June 9 in its Longfellow building courtyard.
A CRLS in-person graduation event will be held from 3 to 8 p.m. June 10 at Danehy Park, followed by a virtual event that will broadcast CEATV 98/99 and streamed on the high school website.
“It’s actually going to be a hybrid model for the graduation where there will be an outdoor event at Danehy Park for students to be able to come together in person and to process, as well as a virtual component,” superintendent Kenneth Salim said. “A lot of people are working closely with the public health department, using the state guidance around all the different precautions we’re going to be taking, so there will actually be students coming in, but in smaller cohorts.”
“What the students wanted”
The Danehy Park in-person ceremony allows family and friends – up to five guests – to celebrate in person with their graduate, CRLS principal Damon Smith said.
“We feel pretty positive about what we’re going to be able to do,” Smith said. “Most importantly, it’s what the students wanted. Their primary goal was to have their families watch them cross the stage with their family with them, so that’s what we’ve been able to do, and we’re excited.”
Graduates will enter the event every half hour in small cohorts defined by their learning community, and leave the venue after receiving their diploma. This will allow all graduates to participate in the ceremony while reducing the risk of overcrowding during the event.
The following virtual graduation event will be prerecorded, with each graduate announced and accompanied by a photograph, and featuring musical selections, speeches and presentations of the CRLS Faculty Distinction Awards.