‘Epic finish during epic times’ for ARHS class of 2020

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By Liz Nolan, Contributing Writer

ARHS electronic sign wishing the class of 2020 well.
photo/Liz Nolan

Northborough/Southborough – The hard work and accomplishments of the 338 graduating seniors of Algonquin Regional High School’s (ARHS) Class of 2020 will be acknowledged, while keeping safety a priority. Although the traditional ceremonies cannot be held due to the COVID-19 social restrictions and safety protocols, numerous senior celebratory events are planned.

The final decisions on those events were not made lightly as many ideas were considered as part of the process. Ideas were reviewed and investigated again after a petition was received by the District, which was signed by over 900 parents and students asking for more family input and a more traditional ceremony.

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Northborough Southborough Public School Superintendent Greg Martineau, ARHS Principal Dr. Sara Walsh, District Health and Wellness Coordinator Mary Ellen Duggan, District Physician Dr. Safdar Medina, the ARHS leadership team, senior class advisors, and members of the Senior Steering Committee all were instrumental in reviewing and supporting the final plan announced to parents and students on May 9. The multi-phase plan keeps safety in the forefront.

“I feel terrible students will not be able to experience their last few months of their senior year in a typical manner,” said Martineau. “It’s a loss for them.”

One proposed idea was a rolling rally. Martineau reached out to the Town Administrators and safety officials and it was decided that it could not be done safely.

“The plan would have involved over 200 cars travelling through winding roads,” said Martineau. “A community parade takes months to plan the logistics and to ensure safety.”

A virtual, student run Senior Night will kick off the multi-phase approach to celebrate the seniors. It will include a slideshow comprised of student photos and farewell video messages and be viewed by all students who log in.

ARHS staff volunteers will travel by bus to deliver caps and gowns, along with swag bags to students.

Northborough Cable Access Television will create a formal graduation video and feature students wearing their cap and gown and the traditional turning of the tassel, as well as musical performances and special speakers.

Each senior will be individually celebrated and receive their diploma the week of June 8. Families will be allowed to drive up to an area at a designated time, where students will walk across a stage to accept their diploma.

“There will be music, flowers, and a photographer to replicate as much as possible,” said Martineau.

A fall homecoming event to provide the Class of 2020 a chance to gather as a group are being planned.

Staff members from ARHS and District elementary and middle schools released a farewell video on May 15 and can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nJR0Z7WOozM&feature=youtu.be.

Walsh’s message on the video states the sentiment, “Be happy. Be Healthy. Be Well. Epic finish during epic times.”

Martineau acknowledges the important milestone of graduating from high school.

“This milestone represents thousands of hours of learning, years of schooling, accomplishments, experiencing defeats and successes, negotiating conflict, and developing friendships,” he said. “As the Superintendent, I do believe our ARHS seniors need to be celebrated and acknowledged. It is an amazing class with much to be proud of.”