WATERTOWN — In their final day as students of Watertown High School, the class of 2020 got a beautiful day to celebrate graduation in an unconventional way. Confined to home study since March due to the Covid-19 pandemic, they had an opportunity to come out and shine three months later. Under clear blue skies, 213 young men and women became graduates of WHS on June 17 in an outdoor ceremony which made social distancing and safety the priority.

“We thought this would be the safest way to honor our graduates,” said Superintendent Dr. Rydell Harrison. 

“Despite everything, the students persevered, and we were fortunate enough to have perfect weather and have everything go smoothly.”

It was a day-long endeavor unlike any in school history, but everyone rose to the challenge, making the occasion that much more special.

Beginning just after noon and ending at around 7 p.m., each senior was honored in groups of 20 or more with a half-hour window.

Colorful parades of vehicles made their way around the entrance to the front of the school. Only the graduates were allowed to leave their cars.

Each graduate walked past a tent as their names were announced to receive congratulations from Dr. Harrison and Board of Education members; from there, they proceeded to a table which held their diplomas, as Principal Dr. Janet Parlato saluted.

As familiies took photos and shouted out congratulations, each student posed for a formal portrait holding their reward for four years of hard work.

“I think it’s gone very well, and although we would have liked and indeed hoped for a more formal sendoff, the young men and women handled themselves with grace, good humor and dignity, traits which will serve them well,” said Dr. Parlato, who, along with the faculty, addressed the class in a flip-grid video.

The ceremony was the highlight of a week-long Project Graduation salute to the class of 2020, which began with a luminary ceremony at Veterans’ Park on June 13 and continued with a motorcade salute through town on June 14.

While their class schedules are history, the graduates are still to be honored with a formal address from Dr. Harrison next month.

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