BURRILLVILLE – The Class of 2021 is on track to hold a large-scale commencement ceremony somewhat on par with graduations of the past, although the event will look a little different this year, according to Supt. Michael Sollitto.
While the full details of the event are still in the planning stages, Sollitto said that Burrillville High School will hold an outdoor graduation on Saturday, June 12 starting at 10:45 a.m.
“They’ve missed so much over the last 15 months at all grade levels,” Sollitto said of the students at a Burrillville School Committee meeting this week. “It’s important for kids to have some form of normalcy.”
The annual commencement is typically held inside the school’s Levy Ice Rink, and Sollitto noted the decision to hold the event outside comes following guidance from the Rhode Island Department of Health. The department recently provided a playbook for end-of-year-events to principals across the state, dictating crowd limits as Rhode Island continues the battle against COVID-19.
The guidance calls for a maximum of 75 percent attendance with a limit of 500 people for events without food held indoors, and 1,000 for similar gatherings held outside.
“Traditional events may look a little different than they have in past years because of the limitations,” said Sollitto. “One of the reasons we’re moving the event outdoors is to have about 1,000 people.”
It’s a huge improvement from 2020, when Bronco graduates walked the stage alone in private presentations of diplomas limited to families.
And the news comes as welcomed relief for the class of roughly 165 students in the Class of 2021, who have missed out on dances, trips and other events for more than a year.
“The high school’s also moving forward with plans for their prom,” Sollitto said, noting that additional guidance is expected to help school officials plan for other traditional end-of-year events, such as the 8th grade moving up ceremony.
For the senior commencement, Sollitto said, “We’ll figure out how many tickets each graduate can get based on the limit of 1,000 people outdoors.”
The superintendent noted that there’s some hope that later in May or in June the numbers will expand and restrictions will be loosened but, “we have to plan with the current guidelines as they are.”
“We can hopefully provide the kids with some kind of event that they’ll enjoy,” he said.