After criticisms, Trumbull High graduation plans labeled ‘a work in progress’

TRUMBULL — Graduation plans for the Trumbull High School Class of 2020 remain a work in progress after a proposed in-vehicle graduation generated hundreds of angry replies on social media.

“In light of some evolving concerns, the high school and Central Administration are looking to clarify some areas and making some changes, if possible, with regard to state mandated protocols,” Interim Supt. Ralph Iassogna wrote May 29.

The clarification came a day after Principal Marc Guarino sent a letter to parents and students informing them that the school would hold a modified graduation June 20.

Citing the unprecedented nature of the coronavirus pandemic and the associated social quarantine, Guarino said the school was seeking to honor the graduates and allow them and their families to hear their name called and allow them back on campus one final time, all while adhering to state and local health guidelines.

“We are happy to announce that we will recognize and celebrate our graduates on Saturday, June 20, 2020, on the grounds of Trumbull High School with a graduation ceremony aligned to the (Department of Education) and Connecticut State Department of Public Health guidelines,” he wrote. “While this ceremony will be different than in years past, we will be able to provide our students the opportunity to be on our campus, have their name be called in the presence of family members, have a professional picture taken and receive their diploma jacket and program.”

To accommodate the class of more than 500 students, officials said the students would be given a time to come to the campus in their vehicle.

“Given the complexity of our graduation plans, we are still working collaboratively with town agencies and school personnel to ensure the safety of our ceremony, which will be shared with our graduates and families next week,” he wrote.

Reaction to the announcement was swift and overwhelmingly negative. Despite a lack of details, commenters condemned the plan as a “drive-thru” graduation. An online petition urging the administration to reconsider generated more than 2,100 signatures in about 20 hours.

“This is completely ridiculous!!! There is no way my child will get into the car and receive his diploma through the window... seriously, let that visual sink in... do better, THS,” wrote Lynn David.

“This senior class needs a traditional graduation. They had everything else taken away from them,” wrote Lisa Bartoli.

Lucy Teixeira said she wanted her son to be able to celebrate his graduation in person with his friends.

“We can make this happen safely,” she wrote. “We just need some effort and some heart (from) those in a leadership position to support our kids. They deserve this as they have missed so much this senior year.”

The idea that students deserved a traditional graduation after losing out on many other aspects on senior year was repeated many times in the petition’s comments.

“My senior deserves better,” wrote Kelly Orazietti.

Trumbull High alum Pat Testa agreed, writing “Let them graduate outside with social distance. They deserve that.”

Former Board of Education Chairman Deborah Herbst took to social media to state her disagreement with the policy, and also cited the possible danger of having hundreds of vehicles maneuvering around the school’s parking lots.

“The graduates should be able to walk onto the field 6ft apart, have their name called and receive their diplomas. No spectators in the bleachers and film it for families to see. It’s outside. I believe it could have been done,” she wrote.