Public schools announce graduation plans

Superintendent W. David Bromwell

CAMBRIDGE — Dorchester County Public Schools announced on Friday plans to honor graduates of the Class of 2020. Superintendent W. David Bromwell’s full statement follows:

As many of you already know, Maryland State Superintendent of Schools Dr. Karen Salmon has closed all Maryland schools for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year. This is an unprecedented decision in Maryland State history, but one that I am sure we all anticipated was going to happen due to the COVID 19 pandemic.
It has been strange continuing to plan behind the scenes for our 2020 Seniors, not knowing what each day would bring to us, as scheduled senior celebratory activities probably would not happen in the fashion that we are used to in years past.

This leads us to where we are now. I have been meeting with the principals of Cambridge-South Dorchester High School (C-SDHS), North Dorchester High School (NDHS), and the Dorchester Career and Technology Center. The graduation committees of C-SDHS and NDHS have planned several celebratory opportunities which I have shared over several meetings with senior class officers from both high schools. With a great deal of work, suggestions, and communication with our community stakeholders, we are going to celebrate our Dorchester County Public School (DCPS) 2020 graduates in ways that have never been attempted in Dorchester County Public School history.

Seniors’ Last Official Day, May 20, 2020
On May 20, 2020, our DCPS seniors will be recognized on their last official day as students in Dorchester County Public Schools in the following ways.
C-SDHS and NDHS stadiums will be lit for 20 hours and 20 minutes. The lights will be scheduled on at 3:40 a.m. until 12 midnight.

On the C-SDHS Campus Information Screen and the NDHS Stadium Scoreboard, DCPS 2020 graduate names will scroll during the 20-hour, 20-minute time table.

From 4-8 p.m., there will be a Dorchester County Public School Graduation Showcase along the drive leading up to the Hyatt in Cambridge.
C-SDHS and NDHS graduates’ individual pictures and senior memories will be posted for the entire community to view during this time period. Students, parents, relatives, and the community can view this Showcase as many times as they wish from their cars, as they drive the lane leading up to the hotel. I wish to thank the Hyatt for the use of their grounds for this one-time event.

After the showcase, all graduate pictures and banners will be posted at each school and eventually will be given to the graduates as a keepsake.

Celebratory Parades
On our seniors’ scheduled Graduation Days, NDHS (May 27) and C-SDHS (May 28), Dorchester County will have two parades that have never been attempted by Dorchester County or Dorchester County Public Schools. These parades can take place only by following our social distancing guidelines established by the governor and our law enforcement partners who are fully supportive of this event if we keep everyone safe.

As superintendent and a life-long community member, Dorchester County needs to celebrate our seniors and senior parents like I know our community can do. We need to show the state of Maryland what the Dorchester County community is all about and embrace these graduates like never before.

The community is invited and encouraged to line the parade route to cheer on these special graduates from their property, while following all safe-distancing practices.
NDHS graduates and their parents in their personal vehicles on May 27, will proceed from NDHS to Hurlock, Secretary, and East New Market. This parade will begin at 6 p.m. with our local fire departments and law enforcement leading our parade line through our local towns.

C-SDHS graduates and their parents in their personal vehicles on May 28 will proceed from C-SDHS to Race Street, High Street, Hambrooks Boulevard, Somerset Avenue, Glasgow Street, Oakley Street, Greenwood Avenue, Washington Street, and Mace’s Lane. This parade will begin at 6 p.m. with our local fire departments and law enforcement leading our parade, completing the Cambridge loop.

NOTE: more specific information about the routes and safety guidelines regarding participating will be forthcoming from schools to graduates and parents. Presently, DCPS is waiting for State Highway Administrative approval of these parades and everyone involved in this process has increased the speed of the application process for our graduates and parents.

Graduation Ceremonies
Like everyone, especially our seniors, I too was holding out for as long as possible, reading and being presented all the different ways our 2020 graduates could celebrate and resemble the wonderful ceremonies C-SDHS and NDHS have presented to our communities from past years. COVID-19 has changed the way we can legally congregate for large gatherings; even those which are so important as to receive an earned Maryland High School Diploma.

The graduation committees, executive team and I have purposely delayed a decision regarding the ceremony hoping Maryland would be able to relax restrictions allowing MORE attendees to witness a 2020 graduate receive a diploma. We now have two options: a virtual ceremony in which DCPS graduates will be honored online through pictures and recordings or a modified version that would allow a more personalized approach to receiving a diploma while still following the governor’s orders and the law.

Appointments would be made individually for graduates to arrive at their school in their cap and gown. They would walk the stage, receive their diploma and any senior awards they have earned, with the opportunity to have their photograph taken. This would all be captured by a video production company hired by DCPS who would combine each graduate’s walk plus speeches and awards to create a Class of 2020 keepsake DVD.

This DVD would also be livestreamed to be viewed by all once the production firm is complete in June. This is the preferred option as we all recognize the importance of a personalized memory for graduates, parents or guardians. The decision on the type of ceremony to be held will be made by me on May 26 at 12 p.m. and will be based on the restrictions in place within Maryland at that time.

Safety and the governor’s orders will determine which graduation ceremony is chosen. If we are able to proceed with the more personalized ceremony, NDHS taping and diplomas will be awarded on June 1 and 2 while C-SDHS taping and diplomas will be awarded June 3, 4, and 5.
Whichever ceremony is chosen, schools will contact students regarding arrangements after the decision on May 26. Both high schools will also be in touch on finalizing cap and gown pickup, locker cleanout, and possible obligation completions in the very near future.

Many of you may prefer to put the ceremony off till later in the summer, fall, or possibly as late as 2021. Our 2020 senior officers, parents, and the graduation committees realize in our present situation, we may not get one of these opportunities. By proceeding with some form of graduation now, we are guaranteeing that a recognition will take place for our graduates.

While this is not the information I wished to share with you during this school year, I do feel the plans we have made for our DCPS 2020 graduates and their parents are the most unique and memorable in Dorchester County school history. The DCPS Class of 2020 will always be remembered as the 9/11 and COVID-19 class which overcame all obstacles and graduated in a way that made the Dorchester County community proud.

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