WESTFORD ACADEMY: Administrators Seek Solution to Graduation Ceremony in Shadow of COVID-19

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Every year as June approaches, the town wraps itself around Westford Academy like a blanket of maroon and grey — the school colors.

The graduation ceremony, held on the first Friday in June, brings hundreds to the Trustees Field at Alumni Stadium where rows of chairs are placed side by side for the trustees and other dignataries. The bleachers are filled with attendees, and some sit on the turf during this traditional outdoor celebration.

Helium balloons float above mailboxes to denote a senior lives inside the house. Parties are planned, robes and mortarboards are distributed, speeches are prepared, scholarships and awards handed out, and a large temporary stage is erected for School Committee members to hand out diplomas. All this while about 400 seniors are receiving acceptance letters from their colleges of choice. The graduates are ready to fly.

But with a global pandemic containing everyone inside their homes, even eager graduating seniors, the graduation ceremony may not happen in the same way as before.

Plans are still under wraps as WA Principal James Antonelli works with his staff.

“Jim Antonelli and his staff have been very active in seeing what can be done in terms of simulating some degree of graduation for our seniors,” said Superintendent Bill Olsen at the April 13 School Committee meeting. “They’re very passionate about it. They want to do the right thing…”

Trip to Disney World

For many years, the graduating senior class has had a tradition of going to Disney World in Orlando, Florida over the Memorial Day weekend. This too, is in trouble due to COVID-19. Olsen said Antonelli will be making an announcement about the trip in about a week.

“Plan on some news coming out about April 20 on that,” Olsen said.