Graduate Chelsie Berkey attends the Mt. Blue High School commencement ceremony Sunday from inside her mother’s pickup truck, decorated with the school’s colors. Andrea Swiedom/Franklin Journal

FARMINGTON — Mt. Blue High School awarded 164 students with diplomas on Sunday, June 14, at a drive-up ceremony at the school’s parking lot. 

“When I think of resilience, I think of our class,” class president Olivia Schanck said while addressing her peers in a trailing line of vehicles. 

Schanck said the Class of 2020 has already entered the “real world” as it finished the last two months of high school amid a global health crisis during which many students have become “essential workers,” and are now in major support roles at home.

Mt. Blue High School graduate Haleigh Chase receives a kiss and a bouquet Sunday from her boyfriend, Trevor Haynes, after her graduation ceremony in Farmington. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

Speeches and a musical performance were broadcast over an FM radio station and streamed over VIMEO, allowing families to tune in while waiting in their vehicles.

Many graduates referred to themselves as the “Class of Corona,” instead of the Class of 2020.

Beneath a white tent, class officers and school staff wearing blue-and-gold masks guided students out of their vehicles. Graduates were then led to a podium to receive their diplomas from Monique Poulin, the school’s principal.

“For the amount of time they had, they did a really good job,” graduate Kaitlin Higgins said from the passenger seat of her mother’s car. “And they showed the seniors that they really cared about them and their graduation even with the stuff that went down with Corona.”

Class speaker Kahryn Cullenberg described how supportive and empathetic Mt. Blue’s teachers and staff were during remote learning. She encouraged her classmates to continue the trend of small acts of kindness that she has observed during the initial months of the pandemic.

“Small acts can add up when everyone jumps on board,” Cullenberg said. 

Students were allowed to remove their mask for a brief photo opportunity as they stood next to Poulin with their diploma. They were then directed to a grassy area marked for social distancing where the students cheered for the rest of their group’s graduates. 

After receiving feedback from the class of 2020, Mt. Blue decided to organize the procession based on students’ desired group of friends rather than an alphabetized order. Vehicles were registered ahead of time based on those groups, and families were given a time slot to enter the parking lot. Some students had several decorated vehicles packed with tailgating supporters attending the ceremony.

“I’m happy that they did something for them because it just didn’t seem like anything at first was going to happen. This is pretty organized, I think. At least they get some kind of recognition,” Mom Sheri Nichols said from her vehicle while slowly driving her daughter Katrina Sprague through the procession line. 

Students received their diplomas in groups. Each group was allowed to cheer for their fellow classmates outside of their vehicles in a socially distanced space. Andrea Swiedom/Franklin Journal

Science teachers Jeff and Maria Howatt directed traffic at the school’s entrance while holding clipboards clamped with spreadsheets of the vehicle procession order. 

“There was 20 minutes of chaos and then perfect,” Jeff Howatt said about the first flow of cars.

The student and faculty planned ceremony proceeded with a calm pace which required four hours to award all of the graduates with diplomas. 

“When kids are part of the solution, there’s always a win,” Maria Howatt said.

Of the 164 graduates, 97 plan on attending college or a technical program, 29 students will enter the workforce and four plan on entering the military.


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