‘What we’ve been waiting for since March 2020:’ Watertown High School prepares for in-person graduation

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WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWTI) — The Watertown City School District is planning for its biggest event of the year: It’s annual graduation ceremony.

However, planning for this event did not come without challenges.

Up until a few weeks ago, the graduation ceremony was going to be split in half for guests: Honoring one half of the alphabet by last name, hosting a brief intermission, and then honoring the final half of the alphabet.

Now, with the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions in the state, Watertown will host one full graduation ceremony and will allow six guests per graduate.

“This is a moment that I’ve been waiting for, to have all of our students celebrated,” expressed Watertown City School District Superintendent Patricia LaBarr. “Our high school administration has gone above and beyond and worked very hard because now we can have an in-person graduation. Honestly, this is the best possible outcome that we could have hoped for.”

Although empty now, come Friday evening, the Watertown turf stadium will be full of graduation seniors and their family and friends.

The ceremony will begin with a Class of 2021 Parade which will start on upper Washington Street and process to the High School.

Graduates will then “walk the red carpet” into the stadium where they will stand with their classmates for one final time as high schoolers.

Superintendent LaBarr shared how the ceremony symbolizes the perseverance the students, the district and the North Country has held during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Commencement is the beginning. And for us, it’s a beginning for our seniors who are starting their next chapter, but it’s also a beginning for all of in the north country,” expressed LaBarr. I think it’s symbolic and kind of beautiful at the same time that commencement is a new beginning. “It’s a time for all of us in the Watertown City School District and in the North Country to start our next chapter of better tomorrow.”

And addressing the Class of 2021 one last time, Superintendent LaBarr stated:

“Back on March 13th, 2020, you came to school on a Friday and then your lives basically were turned upside down over that weekend, and school shut down March 16th through the end of your junior year. And then to start your senior year on a hybrid schedule, some students being fully remote and some students continuing to be fully remote. But I think that you’ve had a lot of challenges and you’ve persevered and you’ve overcome, and you just need to keep persisting for a better tomorrow.”

The Watertown High School Class of 2021 Commencement Ceremony will be held at the Watertown Turf on Friday, June 25, 2021, starting at 5:30 p.m. with the senior car parade.

The ceremony will also be livestreamed from the District website tentatively starting at 6:30 p.m.

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