The Putnam Examiner

Carmel High Salutes Graduating Seniors Nightly on Field

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It’s been a school year like no other because of the coronavirus pandemic, and particularly caught up in the chaos have been high school seniors whose milestone moments have evaporated.

School leaders have been scrambling to try to find ways to salvage memories and provide an adequate sendoff for seniors that recognizes their years of accomplishments.

As one token of admiration for the Class of 2020, Carmel High School last Monday kicked off what will be a nightly ritual for the foreseeable future by turning on the lights on the football field at 20:20: military time for 8:20 p.m.

About 40 of the 345 graduating seniors and some of their families turned out for the first night of festivities, some of whom danced on the turf field to music arranged by interim high school principal John Fink.

“We’re trying to give them something positive,” Fink said, who noted the idea came from social media and a student who had noticed the Hendrick Hudson School District was honoring its seniors in a similar fashion.

“Senior year is where some hardcore memories are made,” Fink said. “(With this virus) it’s such a letdown. We feel so awful about it. There’s no manual here. We’re trying to do little things to show them we care.”

While the Senior Ball (prom) has been cancelled, plans are underway for a virtual Senior Awards ceremony at the beginning of June. Seniors being recognized will be notified in advance. Teachers and community members will announce the awards from remote locations.

Meanwhile, Fink said administrators and senior class brain trust are hashing out a host of ideas for a graduation ceremony that is “Carmel-centric.”

Under consideration are having a socially distance event on the football field, broken into two separate ceremonies to allow for each student to have a few family members in attendance; organizing a car parade that funnels into a large parking lot somewhere in town; or doing something on social media.

Fink said guidance counselors have been working tirelessly assisting seniors navigate what has become an even more complicated path to choosing a college education and helping them cope with emotional issues.

“Their mental and emotional stability is our highest priority,” Fink said. “We’re reaching out to all the kids to keep them engaged.”

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