SHS clarifies, modifies graduation plan after student protests

Principal to distribute diplomas; caps and gowns available sooner

📸 The Citizen Chronicle file photo from Southbridge High School’s 2019 graduation ceremonies.

SOUTHBRIDGE — After consternation voiced by a number of seniors, local graduation plans have been clarified and amended by school officials.

On Thursday, May 28, Southbridge High School principal Patrick Danby posted a video on the school district’s Facebook page to detail graduation plans. The video, addressed to graduating seniors, noted a desire to “celebrate your accomplishments, your graduation, and moving on to the next stage of your life.” Danby said there would be a “virtual graduation” spliced together with an “in person” component that would include graduates receiving a cap and gown before picking up their diploma and walking across the stage for photographs and video.

Each of the in-person components were scheduled for June 10, with the virtual graduation being shared online on June 19. Those plans were not sufficient for some members of the Class of 2020, who assembled for a pair of protests. Students voiced a desire to be handed their diplomas by Danby as principal, rather than simply picking it up from a table, as well as the ability to gather with family and friends in accordance with social distancing guidelines. Students also floated the idea of a parade, citing a similar activity held for Shepherd Hill Regional High School graduates.

After meetings with students, school officials clarified graduation plans and announced there would be some modifications made.

Graduating seniors will now be able to receive their cap and gown two days sooner, providing students an opportunity to decorate their mortar boards and come to the in-person portion of the commencement ceremonies already dressed for the occasion. The cap and gown pickup will be held from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. on June 8.

“Regardless of when you pick up your cap and gown, you can participate in decorating your cap,” announced Southbridge Public Schools on its Facebook page. “If you would like to submit pictures of your decorated cap, send photos to These photos will be included in the final video to be broadcast on June 19.”

Addressing a desire for a more traditional distribution of the actual diplomas, a plexiglass barrier will be erected and hand sanitzer placed on a graduation stage where students will be able to receive their diploma from Danby on June 10 during the hours of 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.


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