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East Grand High School holds outdoor graduation ceremony

DANFORTH, Maine — For East Grand High School, the graduation ceremony for the Class of 2020 is likely to go down as one of the most unique in the school’s history.

For one thing, this year’s graduating seniors consisted of only four students — a historically low number. Then there is the matter of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has derailed countless graduation ceremonies throughout the country.

But through some creative ingenuity, East Grand High School managed to hold its ceremony in a unique fashion. The ceremony was held outdoors, in between the elementary school and the baseball and soccer fields, with 25 family members allowed to sit by the stage. The remainder of family and friends stayed in their cars and listened to the ceremony on WHOU.

Junior Class President Madisyn Oliver leads a procession for the East Grand High’s Class of 2020. Staff Photo/Alexander MacDougall

The event was also live streamed on the Friends of East Grand School Facebook page.

The ceremony did face some new obstacles. Strong winds sometimes interfered with the microphone, followed by a brief rain shower, which was then followed by a small swarm of dragonflies attracted to the damp ground.

But the ceremony itself went as intended, without the need for any delays or interruptions.

Jordyn Cowger, the valedictorian for East Grand High’s Class of 2020, walks down the aisle following the conclusion of the ceremony. Staff Photo/Alexander MacDougall

“A little rain never hurt anybody,” joked Superintendent Margaret White, shortly before awarding the diplomas to the four students, as well as a new MacBook Air for each of them.

White spoke to the families attending the event in person and in their cars, praising them for helping guide the four students to make the next steps in their journeys. She played the Garth Brooks song “Send ‘Em On Down the Road” to set the tone for the remarks.

East Grand High graduate Robert Massey receives his diploma along with a new MacBook Air. Staff Photo/Alexander MacDougall

“You are the people who helped prepare these students for today and beyond,” she said to the audience of family members. “You pick them up, you dust them off, and send them on their way.”

Jordyn Cowger, the class valedictorian, spoke about the challenges the class faced as a result of the pandemic, and thanked the high school for continuing to support her and her classmates during the pandemic by continuing to provide meals and education.

Class Salutatorian Noah Sixberry gives opening remarks as part of the Class of 2020’s graduation ceremony. Staff Photo/Alexander MacDougall

“One major lesson I learned in high school, reality will always differ from what you expect, just in varying degrees,” said Cowger. “While we mourn the loss of these experiences, we must still celebrate so many of the experiences we had.”

East Grand High Superintendent Margaret White gives remarks as part of the graduation ceremony for the Class of 2020. Staff Photo/Alexander MacDougall

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