The Crisis Class of 2020

Denied the chance to walk across a stage with loved ones watching and cheering, the 2020 graduates of Chesapeake country still deserve recognition, accolades and applause. Thankfully, the region has stepped up to give grads a senior year like no other. 

Neighbors, parents, faculty and friends organized car parades for seniors at Broadneck High School, Southern High School and others. Banners were hung along highways, in front of schools and in students’ yards proclaiming the proud news that a senior was graduating. Students dressed in their prom formal wear for photo sessions but no dance—some schools plan on hosting a late summer or fall prom instead. 

In Anne Arundel County, the scoreboards at area schools lit up with 2020 at the same time 20:20 on May 20, in honor of graduates. May 21 was the last day for seniors in AACPS. 

The last day for Calvert County seniors was May 15, but like AACPS, the school system has had to get creative when it comes to graduation ceremonies. Details are still being finalized for school-based graduation events, which will depend upon the governor easing restrictions and allowing gatherings of more than 10 people.  

“Most likely, small groups of students will be scheduled to report to school over the course of a few days. Seniors will walk across a stage in cap and gown to receive their diplomas—whether it is in the auditorium, the stadium, or a temporary viewing area—and social distancing measures will be followed,” writes Daniel Curry, superintendent of schools. The four Calvert high schools will stream virtual ceremonies June 29 & 30. 

The AACPS Class of 2020 was slated to be the first to graduate at the Live! Event Center at Arundel Mills. Instead the school system has implemented a four-tiered celebration that will include digital graduation ceremonies and single-student diploma presentations at each school. 

“As the father of a high school senior myself, I am fully aware of—and have greatly struggled with — the impact that decisions regarding events such as prom and graduation have on students and their families,” superintendent George Arlotto wrote in a letter sent to seniors and their families. The school system has also planned: 

  • Audio tributes about seniors by their teachers and counselors, airing May 26 -28 on the radio station, CRAB Radio (104.7 FM), and posted on each school’s website. 
  • Online senior awards events for each school to honor members of the Class of 2020. 
  • Recorded digital commencement ceremonies following the format of traditional graduations and broadcast on AACPS-TV and on AACPS’ YouTube and Livestream channels, complete with a turning of the tassels. 
  • Graduates will receive their diploma at their school in cap and gown with up to four immediate family members watching. Schools will arrange for photographers to document the occasion. This will replace the Cap and Gown Gala events previously planned. No more than two vehicles per graduate and everyone will remain in their vehicle until a scheduled time for the graduate to walk to the stage. Family members will not be allowed on the stage. 

“Nothing that has happened can diminish the accomplishments of the members of the Class of 2020,” writes Arlotto. “They are outstanding young leaders who will shape the world in the coming years. The ways we will celebrate them aren’t what we thought they would be in September, but our pride in their accomplishments and the way they carry themselves is every bit as strong.” 

The Segreti Family joined the Southern High School car parade to honor the Class of 2020. Photo credit: Heidi Segreti