Mt. Ararat High School seniors will graduate at the Topsham Fairground this year, the same venue used last year due to restrictions under the COVID-19 pandemic.

The ceremony will be held on a field at the fairground from 1-3 p.m.. Fairground gates open at 11:30 a.m.

According to a community letter from High School Principal Donna Brunette, due to updated state guidelines, this year’s graduation will more closely resemble those held before COVID-19, allowing for more people to attend the outdoor ceremony. Masks are recommended for people who are unvaccinated.

Each senior will receive six tickets to invite family and friends for seats on the infield. Non-ticket holders are still allowed to attend, however, they are being asked to bring their own seating and sit at designated areas on the field.

The graduation will be open to the public and non-ticket holders must sign in upon entry. Each senior will also receive a parking pass, allowing their vehicle to park on the track. Those who do not hold a parking pass must walk from a designated parking area to the track for the ceremony.

“The Topsham Fairground was chosen because it offers an outside venue in our community that can accommodate any distancing requirements,” wrote Brunette in an email.

Co-valedictorian Isabelle Gardiner said she is looking forward to graduating at the Topsham Fairground venue, especially in light of the new, more relaxed, CDC guidelines.

“I wasn’t super enthusiastic when the plan was to still make it entirely a drive-up event because I felt like we could do better than that,” Gardiner said. “However, now that family will get to be seated outside to view the event, I’m excited to have a more normal end to a really chaotic year.”

Last year, the graduation was drive-in style, meaning that students could invite one car filled with family members, or two cars if the parents are separated, and attendees had to stay in their vehicles.

At Mt. Ararat High School, Gardiner swam on the varsity swim team all four years and pursued her interest in art, particularly painting. In the fall, she will be attending Boston College with plans to major in applied psychology and human development as well as a potential minor in studio art.

“I’m excited to graduate. I’ve worked really hard to get to where I am, so I’m glad to see my effort paying off,” Gardiner said. “At the same time though, graduation is bittersweet. I’ve made a lot of great relationships with teachers and friends here and it’s sad to be moving on from that.”

Gardiner said that, although COVID-19 made the class of 2021’s senior year “weird” and at times difficult, such as not having a homecoming, winter formal or prom, the class was ultimately able to push through.

“I think something else that is unique about the class of 2021 is the perspective we have on school,” Gardiner said. “We all complain about going to school and sports practices on occasion because we’re burnt out and they can be exhausting. But this year, after spending several months isolated from our peers back in the spring, it felt like a relief to be able to attend school.”

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