Groton on the Inside: A graduation like no other

GHS Associate Principal Jake Roe after hanging a banner on the West South Street bridge in the village of Groton depicting the names of the Class of 2020 graduates.
GHS Associate Principal Jake Roe after hanging a banner on the West South Street bridge in the village of Groton depicting the names of the Class of 2020 graduates.
Photo by Kelly Bishop
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The road to the 2020 graduation ceremony for Groton High School has been “all over the map” since GCS Superintendent Margo Martin and GHS Associate Principal Jake Roe first digested the reality that the indoor ceremonies with no limits on guests we have all been accustomed to for years would not be possible this year due to COVID-19 restrictions.

It was not too far into the process when the decision was made to hold the 2020 graduation outdoors at Ross Field, but it seemed that every time Martin and Roe would devise a plan based upon the latest set of rules and regulations they received from the governor’s office, those rules would change and they would have to “change lanes” on that road and come up with another plan.

Traditionally, GHS has held a separate awards night where the seniors would receive any scholarships and awards they had won.

“It has just been so frustrating,” Roe said. “We first planned to have the awards night and the graduation. Then, we realized we couldn’t have two separate events, so we had to modify that plan. Finally, we had everything planned out for families to be able to sit together on the field and had sent everything out to the parents. Two days later, we were told people had to be in cars, so we had to modify everything all over again. I can only imagine how frustrating this has been for the families.”

Also included in the planning process were the senior class advisors, Travis Williams and Tracy Cooper, and the senior class officers, Averie Roberts, president, Abby Corcoran, vice president, Lilly McCormick, secretary, and Lauren Reeves, treasurer.

“As class president, I am incredibly proud of the effort our school and community has put forth to make this year good for us despite everything going on,” Roberts said. “The circumstances this year are obviously very unique, but it’s clear that the Groton staff is still working hard to make sure we have a memorable graduation, and I’m very grateful for that.”

Roberts also said she is proud to be part of the Class of 2020 because she thinks they will be remembered for their strength and diligence.

“I don’t think anybody can disagree that our class graduation will be one of the most memorable,” she said.

Corcoran shared that sentiment.

“This graduation has been a roller coaster of emotions,” she said. “I always like to know what’s going on well in advance. However, with the pandemic, everything is constantly changing. These changes have certainly made it difficult to plan, yet the school has done their absolute best to give us the best graduation possible, and I could not be more thankful. June 27 will definitely be memorable and exciting for the Class of 2020.”

McCormick expressed her gratitude to the school as well.

“I am really thankful that the school has done so much to try to give us the celebration that we deserve,” she said. “At the same time, that comes with a lot of disappointment. I can’t even have all of my siblings at graduation, and the whole situation is kind of unfortunate.”

She further acknowledged how difficult the past few months have been for administration.

“I’m still so thankful that the school never gave up on us, even if it was inconvenient or extra work for them,” McCormick said. “It’s really shown that they care about their students, and it makes me proud to have grown up here in Groton.”

The final plan is in place, and Roe has been hopping these last couple of weeks, as he and the GCS staff have been giving Ross Field a “makeover.”

All the outbuildings have been repainted in bright Groton red and white, and hours have been spent lining and dividing the field into “socially distant” squares for the guests to sit in.

“I’m just really happy we are able to have it at all,” Roe said. “We are very fortunate in Groton to be a small town so we can still allow each student to at least have four guests.”

At 10:45 a.m. Saturday, June 27, instead of the traditional walk up the aisle in the gym, the Class of 2020 will instead be marching from The Caboose on West South Street, proceeding down South Main Street and then into Ross Field, where they will all be seated under a tent at one end of the stadium.

The Groton Police Department will be closing South Main Street for the duration of the march, but onlookers are welcome to line the streets to watch the class walk by. The ceremony will begin at 11 a.m. for guests of the graduates only.

Groton resident, Joe Sirvent, will be providing a state-of-the-art sound system for the event, and photographs of each graduate with their diploma will be taken by Adrian Mitchell of Old Stage Photography.

“We’re just trying our best to create something memorable for these kids because they’ve lost so much,” Roe said.

A recap of the ceremony will be published in this column next week, so please come back to read all about it.

Groton on the Inside appears weekly. Submit news ideas to Linda Competillo, lmc10@cornell.edu or 607-227-4922.

In brief:

Kudos to food providers

Under the capable leadership of Kelly Neville, Groton Central School’s food service director, seven food service helpers, 13 teacher aides, 11 bus drivers and transportation manager, Jim Sedorus, with the support of Margo Martin, superintendent, the other GCS administrators, custodians and maintenance workers, 73,346 meals were delivered over the past 63 days to Groton students. That’s a lot of food!

Books from the library

The Groton Public Library will reopen for contactless curbside pickup only beginning June 16. Hours are 1 to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday; 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.

Holds may be utilized by using the online catalog. If you need assistance, you may call the library, but as staff do not have regular hours yet, you may not reach anyone. If that happens, please do not leave a message; just call back again until someone picks up.

Planning for a pool?

The Town of Groton Code Official Rick Fritz reminds the community that a building permit is required for any pool capable of holding more than 24 inches of water. A fence may also be required per NYS Building Code.
For further info, contact the code official at 607-898-4428, or the Town Clerk’s Office at 607-898-5035.

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