AHS announces graduation plans for Class of 2020

Amsterdam loves senior sign

Two-day event to feature virtual ceremony and diploma celebration

Amsterdam High School, amid COVID-19 restrictions, has announced some exciting and unique graduation plans for the Class of 2020.

AHS will hold a two-day event to honor this year’s senior class kicking off with a virtual ceremony at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, June 26 followed by a drive-thru style diploma celebration beginning at 10 a.m. on Saturday, June 27.

“While traditional commencement ceremonies are still not allowed per Gov. Cuomo’s executive order surrounding the coronavirus, we have been working hard to plan something special for our seniors,” said AHS Principal Tyrone O’Meally. “They have been through a lot this year and they deserve to be honored to the fullest.”

Faced with statewide prohibitions on “large” gatherings due to COVID-19, a high school graduation committee has been working with the AHS student leaders, the district SAFER Committee and county health officials for weeks to plan a graduation event that would be ceremonial, memorable, fun and safe for everyone.

While some school districts have opted to use local drive-in theaters to host their events, committee members believed that option would exclude many Amsterdam families who don’t have cars and would not be able to attend. An outdoor ceremony of 150 people or less, which the governor is now allowing, will also not meet the district’s needs. AHS will have more than 250 graduates this year.

“This is an important occasion and we want to make sure all of our families can experience it,” said Interim Superintendent Dr. Raymond Colucciello.

Virtual graduation on Friday, June 26

The Friday night ceremony will resemble commencements of the past with music, speakers, special videos and a tribute to the Class of 2020 only it will be held virtually (not in-person) and shown on the GASD YouTube channel https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCfCotXzDFlyr8aWHCiOQ86g. It will also be recorded so it can be viewed at any time.

Diploma celebration on Saturday, June 27

After Gov. Cuomo announced recently that drive-thru style and small outdoor ceremonies are now acceptable with certain restrictions, the district came up with the idea of holding the Saturday diploma celebration. Students are encouraged to wear their caps and gowns with Ram Pride, decorate their caps with their best and creative designs and show their Ram Spirit by adorning their cars in a graduation celebration theme. To prevent large gatherings of more than 150 people per law, students are being scheduled to pick up their diplomas in smaller groups based on their last names:

  • Arrive at 10 a.m. – A-D
  • Arrive at 11 a.m. – E-L
  • Arrive at Noon – M-R
  • Arrive at 1 p.m. – S-Z

AHS families are asked to arrive at the high school in their vehicles (one vehicle per family and no walk ups please) during their designated time slot via Midline Road. They will be directed by monitors to the bus loop, and graduates will be announced when to exit their cars, one at a time, to be awarded their diplomas and get their picture taken by a professional photographer at no charge to families. Other family members must stay in their car during the proceedings.

A custom made AHS Class of 2020 mask will be gifted to each graduate as they pull into the parking lot. The masks should be worn by graduates when exiting their vehicles but the mask can be taken off for the graduation photo only.

Finally, in the interest of safety for all we ask that you be patient and wait your turn. Like many things this year, this style celebration is new to all of us and its success will depend on everyone. For graduates who cannot participate in the June 27 diploma celebration, other arrangements will be made to get those graduates their diplomas and masks.