PMHS graduation plans lead to concerns, appreciation for work done by administration


As PMHS seniors prepare to attend their unprecedented drive-in graduation at SUNY Purchase on June 27, some students reflect on the conclusion and some previous friction between the student body and school administration regarding the decision.

After initially deciding on the drive-in graduation, a decision was made to allow students to vote on the issue following Governor Andrew Cuomo releasing new guidelines for potential graduation procedures for high schools across the state, allowing in-person graduations with up to 150 people attending at a time, among other regulations.   

After these new guidelines were set, a poll was sent to the Class of 2020 for two graduation options: Option 1 was a one-day, socially distanced graduation procedure on Glover Field with two ceremonies at two different times with at most 150 people present each time, and option 2 was the previously discussed SUNY Purchase drive-in graduation. After the second option was chosen by a vote of roughly 56 percent to 44 percent, some students expressed issues with a drive-in graduation, and the lack of a united, simultaneous-graduation alternative. 

“I have various friends who are dreading graduation due to the fighting between their parents. I think the (SUNY Purchase) graduation really ignores people in situations like this… I also just think we deserve to be able to say goodbye to our grade!”, said one student, who asked to remain nameless, via the Class of 2020 group chat. Concerns over having scores of cars idling in a parking lot were also raised, given that sound would be provided over FM radio, forcing the cars to remain on during the ceremony. 

After the initial vote, PMHS seniors Lance Brady, Stephen Tahbaz and Daniel Tahbaz submitted a proposal for two simultaneous, in person ceremonies, with one happening on Ingalls Field, and another adjacently on Franklin Field. Although this proposal was submitted on June 8 with support by others in the senior class, it was not initially responded to by the administration. 

“Any simultaneous announcements could be done through a livestream, and any additional costs would be fundraised by the Class of 2020. If we could raise over $70,000 from Pelham CouchFest alone, the kind of money for two simultaneous ceremonies would have been possible,” said Lance Brady, one of the proponents of this plan. “I also wanted to graduate on Pelham soil, where my family graduated. My brother graduated at Franklin, and my mom at Ingalls.” 

In an email to parents of the class of 2020 on June 10th, PMHS Principal Jeannine Clark addressed this proposal, and clarified the process of the graduation. 

“We discussed this idea with legal counsel and came to the determination that we do not believe this plan would be permitted under state guidance as there would more significantly more than 150 people on the campus at the same time,” said Clark in the email. “We also explored having one ceremony at Glover Field and one on Franklin Field, however both of these options would still prevent families from attending and would present logistical hurdles as far as staffing and cost.”

Additionally, the email went into further details regarding the drive-in graduation; the ceremony will last between 1.5 and 2 hours, consist of both pre-recorded and live content, and will be broadcast to multiple high-resolution screens and FM radio for students and parents. 

While the circumstances of this year’s graduation still proved frustrating for some students, the knowledge that this third option was considered by the school administration relieved some pressure. 

“I really appreciate that the administration seriously considered our third option for a period of time.” said Stephen Tahbaz, another initial proponent of the third option.

“It’s never an easy decision, but I’m glad they did it.” 

For more details on this year’s graduation, the official flyer can be found here.