2021 Graduation Update

Caps, gowns, crying parents, and a walk across a stage. That’s right OM seniors: graduation is coming up, and here’s what you need to know about it. 

First and foremost, graduation will be held in person this year. The ceremony will take place at either Merriweather Post Pavilion or on the football field at OM. While the football field is not our traditional venue, you can see it as getting to live out a clichè high school experience. An in-person graduation ceremony was made official at the Board of Education meeting held on March 25th.

The last school day for all seniors will be on May 28th. The window for the graduation ceremonies is from May 28th to June 4th. According to Mrs. Kristin Anderson-Little, one of the graduation coordinators at OM, the ceremonies tend to last 1-2 hours.

In order to follow safety protocols, each student will only get two tickets for guests this year. Spacing, reduced amount of people on stage, mask requirements, and only small group live performances will be allowed at the ceremony. Larger group performances will recorded or live streamed, so don’t give up hope on performing yet. While the rule changes may be undesirable, they will help by maintaining Covid-19 protocols to ensure safety at the ceremony. We still don’t have all the details since there are still quite a few unanswered questions. 

However, fear not seniors. We will get our in-person graduation, whether it is our High School Musical dream of the football field or the grand stage at Merriweather is yet to be determined. We have worked 12 long years, maybe more for some of you, and our day will come. Last year’s seniors did not get the opportunity to cross the stage, so at least we won’t have to watch from home this year. Even though we have had to miss out on quite a few traditional high school experiences, let’s make the most of the time we have left. These last few weeks are your last in public education, so don’t take it for granted. Our caps and gowns are just at the end of this final stretch.

There is a dress code for the graduates for graduation. You will need to wear your cap and gowns of course, with your tassel attached to the cap. The tassel needs to start on the right side of the cap, then it gets moved to the left at the end of the ceremony. Under your gown, you will need to wear professional attire. This means no jeans, no sweats, and no pajamas. Yes, you finally need to wear actual clothes after wearing pajamas to your classes for the past year. Professional wear looks different for everyone, but may consist of suits, ties, dresses, or any other nice formalwear.

So what if you choose to opt-out of the in-person ceremony and not walk across the stage? Mrs. Anderson Little explained that “We are prepared for students who don’t feel comfortable walking and we absolutely understand it. We still are in the middle of a pandemic so we’d like to give that autonomy to families to choose based on whatever their comfort levels are. So the option is going to be essentially what we did last year where students can record their own video, and if they feel uncomfortable doing that, we will have their name announced on the jumbotron or the big screen or whatever we have at Merriweather. Obviously, with the football stadium we’d have to get a little creative to figure out a way to announce the names outside of just verbally announcing them, but we will have something that honors them in that way.”

When asked about how she feels about this year’s graduation, Mrs. Anderson-Little replied that she was excited about being able to give families an opportunity to still be a part of the special day. She is looking forward to the in-person ceremony, in hopes of returning the traditional experience to our seniors.

In everyone’s eyes, graduation may look different due to different experiences and plans for the future. Not everyone dreams of the High School Musical graduation. So what makes graduation, graduation? “I think it’s the energy of the entire gathering of people coming together,” Mrs. Anderson-Little believes. It’s not about the venue or the performances, it’s the people and the community coming together to celebrate the success and achievements of students. Whatever success looks like to you, I think we can all agree that graduation is a huge achievement. No matter the struggles you endured throughout your schooling, you made it through. You did it.

Signing off till next time OM Seniors, may we cross paths again.

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