Durfee High School seniors vote to hold graduation in-person this summer

The state of Massachusetts has allowed for schools in the state to hold in-person graduation ceremonies this summer, under strict guidelines, after July 19. Once school leaders at B.M.C. Durfee High School in Fall River heard the news, they decided to poll the students to ask what they would like to do.

FALL RIVER, Mass. (WLNE) – The state of Massachusetts has allowed for schools in the state to hold in-person graduation ceremonies this summer, under strict guidelines, after July 19.

Once school leaders at B.M.C. Durfee High School in Fall River heard the news, they decided to poll the students to ask what they would like to do.

“We were planning a blended virtual and in-person diploma pick-up kind of approach to graduation, and we were doing that to try to give the seniors something.”

Principal Matthew Desmarais said the original plan had students driving up to a spot, getting out and grabbed their diploma, and driving away. He said that plan has been shelved.

“Student leaders approached us, the superintendent, myself, and they said, ‘hey, we’d like to open a conversation here,’ and so over the weekend we decided we were gonna poll the seniors, let them decide. It’s their graduation,” said Desmarais.

Durfee has around 470 students in the class of 2020, Desmarais said, and just under 65% of them participated in the vote. Of those students, 80% voted to have in-person graduation later this summer.

“They’re ready for that next step, but they want that closure. They wanna come back together, they wanna walk the stage in front of their friends, receive their diploma. I think if we can give them one more experience here at Durfee High School before they move on, as students of Durfee, then it’s our duty to do so.”

While Durfee is still ironing out an exact plan, state guidelines say that ceremonies must be held outdoors, with immediate family only. There can be no hugging or handshakes, and attendees must wear masks.

“I’m sure that there are some administrators at other schools that don’t want to take the chance. I’m really glad that ours are taking the chance and they’re willing to do something for us,” said Durfee senior Jillian Caron.

Caron, who is heading to the University of Rhode Island in the fall, is one of the students who voted to hold out for an in-person ceremony.

“I’d like to see my friends, the parents, and everybody, and I want to see my friends graduate. We worked really hard for the past four years, and we want to walk across the stage together.”

Durfee’s graduation is typically held inside the field house, and the number of attendees is upwards of 3,000 people.

Desmarais said they’re hoping to hold this year’s ceremony shortly after July 19, on the school’s football field, as long as it’s big enough.

© WLNE-TV 2020

Categories: Coronavirus, Fall River, Massachusetts, News, Regional News