LEWISTON — Parents and students said Wednesday night that they want the Lewiston High School Class of 2020 to have a graduation that is as traditional as possible.

And safe for everyone.

That is the balance Principal Jake Langlais and his administrative team must find in the next week or so.

Parents, students, administrators and teacher advisers participated in a videoconference forum to share and hear from the public options for graduation, which is tentatively scheduled for June 5.

“There are pluses and minuses to everything we’ve discussed,” Langlais said.

He said he “couldn’t stop thinking about the science of the thing,” how to safely allow a gathering of graduates and families that would likely top 4,000.

“My fear is that we have an outbreak (of coronavirus) and one person gets sick and dies,” he said. “I don’t want to have to reflect on mistakes we made and it cost someone their life.”

That means that if the 275 seniors set to graduate do it together, as they wish, parents and other relatives might not be able to attend.

Many panelists favored small-group ceremonies, at which 30 or so students would be social-distanced in a large place such as the Androscoggin Bank Colisee.

They could experience the traditional rite of passage of crossing a stage in their caps and gowns. The ceremonies could be livestreamed to families gathered at another large place such as Connors Elementary School, which is close to the Colisee.

Under Gov. Janet Mills’ pandemic guidelines, gatherings of up to 50 people will be allowed beginning June 1. Until then, gatherings are limited to 10.

Small-group ceremonies would take several days, but administrators said they were ready to do whatever is best for students.

A ceremony at the Auburn-Lewiston Municipal Airport was suggested as a way to allow the entire class and their families to be together.

The airport would be closed, meaning no flights would be coming or going, Assistant Principal Jay Dufour said.

“We could create our own drive-in,” Dufour said.

Edward Little High School in Auburn will hold its graduation ceremony at the airport June 6, with an LED screen, audio and livestreaming.

Transportation could be an issue for some Lewiston families, but Superintendent Todd Finn proposed teaming up with Hudson Bus Lines, which has “a lot” of vans, he said.

“We could pool resources,” he said. “That’s what we do in Lewiston. We always support each other.”


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