Glastonbury High School seniors are receiving their diplomas now, even though the governor has paved the way for group graduation ceremonies during the COVID-19 pandemic.
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Gov. Ned Lamont said last week that area schools could begin graduating students with smaller in-person, outdoor ceremonies in July. But school officials in Glastonbury already had a plan to hand out diplomas before the news broke on June 3.
“We didn’t get to walk across the stage, which is kind of unfortunate, but the school did do something special for us, so that’s appreciated,” said Johnny Tyler, 18, shortly after he received his diploma on Monday.
Tyler stood outside his house in anticipation of a solo ceremony that was slated for 8:11 a.m. About an hour later, it came via car parade.
Glastonbury police and a short yellow bus decked out in class of 2020 signs led cars to the Tyler house on Crestdale Road.
Glastonbury Principal Nancy Bean hopped out of one of the cars in the parade with a lectern in tow. She put the diploma on it, announced Tyler’s full name, and handed over the diploma to the graduate while “Pomp and Circumstance” blared from one of the parade vehicles.
“The reason we chose this, we thought it was celebratory, it was personable, and it really brought the community together so you can have neighbors out and everything,” Bean said.
Natalie St. Germain, 17, lives down the street from Tyler -- she got her diploma right after he did.
“I know during these times we need to stay far away from each other for each other’s safety,” St. Germain said.
The walk across the stage was something she looked forward to when her senior year started in simpler times. That, along with sliding her tassel across her cap and tossing both in the air in the company of fellow graduates.
Instead, she did that on her front lawn at the urging of her principal.
“It meant a lot to me that Dr. Bean came out, and she’s so personable and she really made it exciting. It’s just nice to feel a little bit back to normal.” St Germain said.
Bean said she’d be doing 450 of the solo ceremonies over a five-day period, sticking with the plan following the governor’s order. She has left the door open for an in-person ceremony later this summer.
As for the graduates, they now have eyes on college in the fall. St. Germain will major in nursing at Palm Beach Atlantic University in West Palm Beach, Florida; Tyler is going to the University of Connecticut to study mechanical engineering.
“Hopefully, college in four years -- when I walk across the stage there -- will be two times better, Tyler said, puffing on a celebratory cigar.