Pioneer Valley Regional School hosting graduation at drive-in theater due to coronavirus

Franklin County

NORTHFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – High School graduations will look different all around the country this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pioneer Valley Regional School is one school that has figured out a unique way for their seniors to have a graduation ceremony. The 40 seniors at PVRS will be graduating at the Northfield Drive-in Theater, just 10 minutes from their school.

“The initial shock was we’re not getting a regular graduation. They’re missing out on a lot of traditions that everyone else gets. So we’re kind of spinning this on the fact that you’re creating new traditions,” PVRS Principal, Kevin Burke told 22News. “From the parents and the community, it’s been really positive really great. People are excited about it.”

The Northfield Drive-in is owned by the Wiggin family. They’ve lived behind the theater for almost 20 years. They said they’re trying to have the graduation with all the pomp and circumstance of a traditional one.

“Everyone stays in their cars except for the graduates when they are able to get out of the vehicle and process up to take their diploma from the table,” Northfield Drive-in Theater Co-Owner, Julia Wiggin told 22News.

The Wiggin family said to ensure social distancing at the graduation, cars will be lined up in every other spot so that people can enjoy the ceremony while staying safe. Students in their cars will line up at PVRS and have a police-escorted procession from the school to the drive-in theater.

Right now each student will be allowed up to four cars for family and loved-ones to attend the drive-in graduation. The graduation ceremony will also be live-streamed so that student’s families can watch from home.

“It’s really good to know that we can actually do something for the community,” Wiggin said. “Except for the vehicles, we can almost put on the graduation as it would traditionally be held. I feel like we can do a really good job for them [the seniors].”

Technically the property is in New Hampshire so they’re waiting for the state to allow them to open but if the non-essential business closure extends, they’ll petition to be able to still host graduations. They’re also adhering to Massachusetts’ non-essential business closure because the opening to their property is in the Commonwealth.

PVRS isn’t the only graduation they’re planning on hosting. Wiggin said they’ve been contacted by eight schools so far from around New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Vermont to host similar festivities. The new owners of the drive-in say any schools interested in having their graduations at the drive-in are welcome to contact them.

How is your school handling your senior graduation? Email us at reportit@wwlp.com

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