Different Kind of Graduation Planned for Watertown’s Class of 2020; Students Can Choose Grades or Pass/Fail

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One of the signs that went up around town to celebrate Watertown High School's graduating seniors.

One of the signs that went up around town to celebrate Watertown High School’s graduating seniors.

Watertown High School’s graduating seniors will be receiving their diplomas at Victory Field, but no in the way they would have expected in the pre-pandemic world.

The Class of 2020 will have a drive-up graduation on Saturday, June 20, where they will arrive in a car full of family members, get out and march on the field with Pomp and Circumstance playing and receive their diploma, said Superintendent Dede Galdston at Monday’s School Committee meeting.

Students will also have a professional photo taken. The rain location will be the WHS auditorium. The time will be announced. See more information about the graduation by clicking here.

The ceremony is just part of the celebration for the Class of 2020.

“You have seen the (lawn) signs, seen the solo cups (at Victory Field), seen the sandwich boards,” Galdston said. “Everywhere you look you see we have pride in the Class of 2020.”

On Tuesday and Thursday this week, seniors will pick up their caps and gowns and turn in their books and Chromebooks, said Watertown High School Principal Shirley Lundberg. They will also get a special gift.

“The PTO has put together an amazing spirit bag for them,” Lundberg said.

There is also talk of having a rolling rally for the seniors on July 13, Lundberg said, but that has not been finalized.

The plan for graduation was put together by a committee that included students, parents, teachers, guidance department members and the WHS administration. Gov. Charlie Baker allowed for schools to wait until after July 18 when there was a possibility of having an in-person graduation ceremony, but Galdston said that did not seem like a good option for WHS.

“As we know once June hits students hit summer,” Galdston said. “Some are going into military, some have opportunities beyond Watertown. Bringing the class together might be a challenge.”

The School Committee also heard from the WHS valedictorian and salutatorian.

Class valedictorian David Abrahamyan thanked his teachers through the years who helped him.

“I feel very honored to be name the class valedictorian. Thank you for the award and I want to say thanks to all the teachers and all the staff,” Abrahamyan said.

He will attend Northeastern University next year where he plans to study both electrical engineering and physics (which was his favorite class in school).

Salutatorian Eli Cherry-German said he wishes the class could get together for graduation.

“I’m truly saddened that we can’t be meeting in person, especially in order to say goodbye to all the teachers,” Cherry-German said. “They really gave me love and support, and of course knowledge over the years.”

One of the highlights for him was participating in the WHS theater program and said he thought it has transformed under teacher and director Kacie Kirkpatrick. Cherry-German plans to go to McGill University eventually, but plans to defer enrollment for a year so he can work and support his mom.

Grades or Pass/Fail?

WHS students have the option of taking letter grades for a pass for classes that they completed this year.

Lundberg said that if students take a pass, then the class will not be reflected in their grade point average (GPA). If they take the letter grade, it will impact that calculation.

The letter grade can be awarded if a student passed the class in both the first and second halves of the year. The grade would be based on the grade the student would have received at the close of the first half of the year, Lundberg said.

“If they are carrying an A it would help your GPA. Why not take the grade?” Lundberg said. “The advice that the guidance department chose to give is if believe the letter grade reflects your ability, your capability and you work ethic at the high school, take it. If not, take a pass. It will not impact the GPA.”

More information about the letter grade vs. pass/fail can be found in the Principal’s newsletter. Read it by clicking here.

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