The Biddeford High School class of 2020 will be marching at Waterhouse field – just like this group of 2019 students did. BHS is producing a graduation ceremony movie, to be shown June 17 at Saco Drive-In. Dina Mendros/Journal Tribune file photo

BIDDEFORD — They’ll hear Pomp and Circumstance. They ‘ll walk across the stage at Waterhouse Field, like so many graduates before them, and the members of the Biddeford High School Class of 2020 will receive their diplomas.

And families will be able to see that happen — and watch it with their graduate — on June 17 at Saco Drive-In.

The graduation will be filmed beforehand, in segments, and put together in a movie, for viewing on the day.

“We really spent time thinking about what our plan would look like, and how we could provide something inclusive of all students,” BHS Principal Jeremie Sirois told the Biddeford School Committee on Tuesday, May 12.

“I think it’s a fantastic idea,” said Mayor Alan Casavant, who is also the School Committee chair.

Filming a graduation movie, with the help of the film department at Thornton Academy, will allow the 2020 class to take part in past traditions, Sirois said, like wearing caps and gowns, marching, hearing speeches and other graduation musts.

Saco Drive-In has space for 250 vehicles, he said, room for students and their families and some staff. Some families will need assistance with the plan to view the movie, and those details are being worked out, he added.

The movie will also be streamed on June 17. It starts at 9 p.m. — drive-ins must be dark — and cars may begin arriving at 8:15 p.m.

Alternate plans for all high school graduations are needed this year, due to the coronavirus pandemic and state restrictions designed to stem the spread of the virus.

“We think we can make this a safe experience for our students,” said Sirois. “While we wish something in person could happen, I don’t believe that is going to happen this summer. If we kick the can down the road into August, we have students going to work or going into the military … we feel like this is the best option.”

He said a couple of students had attended virtual graduation planning meetings. There were other options, but students wanted something where they could all be together, he said.

There will be security on site, Superintendent Jeremy Ray said.

“I think this is an innovative way to get this done, and it includes everybody,” School Committee member Rebecca Henry said. “I hope people are going to embrace it versus looking at the challenges of it.”


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