ORR Tweaks Seating Plan for Commencement

            In keeping with a plan established several weeks ago, Old Rochester Regional High School will hold graduation exercises in-person on Saturday, August 8, at 10:00 am, with a rain date of 10:00 am on August 9 (rain or shine). What has changed are the seating arrangements.

            The 175 graduates who have all been invited to attend with only members of their immediate households, will be seated on the field with their families in what the school is calling a pod.

            “Once they’re in their pod, they have to stay in their pods,” said ORR Principal Michael Devoll. Each graduate will be dismissed with her/his pod to maintain social distance.

            An earlier version of the seating plan only reversed the traditional position of students and families and was going to sit graduates with safe spacing in the football bleachers and their families socially distanced on the field. The new plan keeps the graduates with their households.

            In an abbreviated ceremony, there will be no speeches but only brief greetings from Devoll and Superintendent of Schools Mike Nelson.

            “The main speaker, the valedictorian, that will be the speech,” said Devoll, referring to Rachel Perry, a school-choice student from New Bedford.

            After Perry speaks, the graduates will be called to the podium to pick up their diplomas.

            Families will be limited to two cars and can only enter the campus via the Marion entrance off of Route 6 down the hill from the tennis courts.

            Graduates have had their caps and gowns since June, but in an event similar to the June yearbook pickup, they were scheduled this week to pick up medals and Honor Society cords so they can wear them for graduation.

            By the end of the day on July 31, public schools were to submit to the state three plans for return to school with priority being placed on the in-person plan. The alternate plans would be the hybrid and remote learning models.

            Many towns’ school buildings can barely service the number of students that are enrolled, so the hybrid model that Devoll described as “cohorts at home and at school” is necessary for most districts. Some towns reportedly have already stated the intention to return to school with a hybrid model and an option for families to choose remote-only education.

            “That (model) seems to makes a lot of sense for the high school,” said Devoll, who said the Tri-Town communities must know ORR’s plan by August 11.

By Mick Colageo

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