The Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School plans to hold graduation for the class of 2021 on the varsity baseball field this June, school officials confirmed this week, breaking with the long-held tradition of a Tabernacle graduation for the second straight year.
The graduation ceremony is scheduled for Sunday, June 6 and will be held entirely outdoors at the baseball stadium and outfield.
High school principal Sara Dingledy said the outdoor venue will allow graduates to invite a select number of guests to the event, though final details remain undetermined.
“Our main priority was getting graduates and participants into a space that could accommodate them outside in a safe way,” said Ms. Dingledy, speaking to the Gazette by phone Tuesday.
Under preliminary plans, graduates and participating faculty will sit six feet apart at the center of the field. Limited distanced seating will be available in the stadium stands, while most families and guests will view the ceremony from the outfield in household pods, the principal said.
The ceremony has been planned according to commencement guidelines released by the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. The school is also working with the Oak Bluffs board of health, the high school nursing staff and the school health and safety committee, and has received approval from the board of health for the preliminary plan.
A rain date for the ceremony is scheduled for June 5.
High school graduation traditions were first disrupted last year, when pandemic restrictions on large public gatherings pushed the high school to hold a small, drive-in-style ceremony at the Agricultural Society fairgrounds for graduates and their families.
This June, the school will hold the ceremony right at home on its own turf — literally.
“We sent a survey to our seniors and their parents and guardians . . . and what we got back was that a majority wanted the baseball field,” said Nell Coogan, a senior class advisor who is spearheading the event with co-class advisor Erin Slossberg and administrator Noelle Warburton. “The Tabernacle is a well-loved favorite, the problem right now is . . . capacity,” she said.
Ms. Coogan said the plan had received support from the class of 2021 student council officers. The Martha’s Vineyard Sharks baseball team, who share the field with the high school during their season each summer, have also signed off, she said.
In addition to the ceremony, the school also hopes to hold a pandemic-safe senior week replete with graduation festivities in the week before commencement, school officials said, but those plans are also not decided yet.
As graduation season nears, Ms. Coogan and Ms. Dingledy both expressed excitement for commencement day for the class of 2021.
“There’s been a lot these kids haven’t been able to do [this year] . . . all these different pieces to the puzzle,” said Ms. Coogan. “I’m so excited for them.”