WESTBROOK – It looks like Mother Nature might give the Westbrook High School class of 2012 a well-deserved break.

The beginning of this week saw the area trapped in a rainy weather pattern that dropped what seemed like the contents of the Atlantic Ocean. Now, it seems as if the clouds might part to allow Westbrook to hold its first outdoor graduation in decades on Friday.

The 120 members of the Westbrook High School class of 2012 will march onto the school’s Olmsted Field at 6 p.m. to receive their diplomas, the change in venue coming after the members of the class voted to hold the graduation on the school’s campus instead of at Portland’s Merrill Auditorium or the Westbrook Performing Arts Center, which will serve as a backup venue in case of rain.

The graduates will hear from senior class president Gabrielle Ledue, as well as valedictorian Mikala Varela, salutatorian Hannah Gowen and honor essayist Gabrielle Crouse at the ceremony. School Superintendent Marc Gousse said that Alex Stone of the Westbrook School Committee would also address the graduates.

The long-range forecast for Friday night looked good as of Wednesday afternoon. The Weather Channel was calling for a high of 66 degrees with a low of 54, with just a 10 percent chance of rain in the evening.

School Superintendent Marc Gousse said that the school administration is keeping a careful eye on the weather and the condition of the field, but unless the forecast changes to make rain more likely, he expects that the ceremony will be held on the football field as scheduled.

“We’ve got a great grounds crew that’s going to make that happen,” he said.

As expected, the Westbrook City Council on Monday approved closing a portion of Stroudwater Street in front of the high school, from Oakland Avenue to Forest Street, for the ceremony.

Gousse said he requested the closure, which had the endorsement of the city’s Public Safety Department, because he wanted to preserve the dignity of the ceremony by eliminating the sound of traffic going by the field.

“I just think it’s going to add to the ceremony,” he said.

Gousse said that anyone attending the ceremony should try to arrive by 5 p.m. in order to avoid any problems with traffic or parking. The street will be closed at 5:45 p.m., 15 minutes before the 6 p.m. ceremony, and it will stay closed until 7:45 p.m.

Traffic would still be able flow through from Westbrook to Portland, with cars diverted to the Westbrook Arterial and residents affected by the closure would still be able to get to their homes. “We’ll make sure they have access,” Gousse told the council.

Under the supervision of  Principal Tom O’Malley, Westbrook High School senior class marshals Nicole Nutter and Fred Thompson lead their classmates from the school to Olmsted Field for rehearsal last week. Graduation ceremonies for the class of 2012 are Friday at 6 p.m. on the field. (Photo by Rich Obrey)

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