BROOKFIELD — Graduating seniors will still receive their diplomas on stage in their caps and gowns with their parents watching on.

The graduation staples are included in Brookfield High School’s plan to honor the class of 2020 while staying safe during the coronavirus outbreak.

In addition to the cap and gown and conferring diplomas, the ceremony will include a processional, as well as speeches and music, which will be available for students and their families to watch on the district’s YouTube channel. Students receiving their diplomas will also be live-streamed there.

“We are still celebrating our senior class but it is non-traditional when compared to what they have all seen or experienced in years past,” Principal Marc Balanda said. “Adding the parade and a few other enhancements will allow us to make the best out of a difficult situation.”

The 200 graduates and their families will parade to the ceremony at the high school on June 20 from Whisconier Middle School beginning at 11 a.m. Each car will have one graduate, unless the graduates are siblings, and that student’s family. Families are encouraged to decorate their cars.

Once they arrive at the high school, the graduates and a maximum of two parents can enter the building to have their names called to receive their diplomas in the auditorium. Groups will have to stay at least 15 feet from each other and must wear masks except at designated photo spots. A maximum of 50 people will be allowed in the building at one time, based on the guidelines set up by the state and town health department.

There will be a professional photographer on hand and chances for families to safely take their own pictures and video. The district plans to send out a video of the ceremony with the pre-recorded speeches and music this summer.

Balanda has been in education for 20 years and said it’s “surreal” to have graduation this way.

Originally, the graduates were only going to be allowed inside with their families and friends watching on.

“I made that decision because I am overly cautious when it comes to this virus as it has directly affected our community, and I did not want to put anybody at risk,” Balanda said.

But with the second phase of the state’s reopening plan going into effect June 20, and with it a loosening of some restrictions, Balanda worked with the superintendent, as well as the town’s police and health departments, to allow parents to accompany their graduates.

“I heard from our students and parents that they really wanted to be able to see their student walk across the stage live,” he said. “There is no easy solution or a perfect plan for graduation ceremonies this year. We make our decisions based on the best information we have at the time. Things change so rapidly between negative and positive news that we are all doing the best we can to put something together to celebrate our seniors.”

Whisconier Middle School has also offered some socially distant end-of-year celebrations to honor the eighth-graders going to the high school. There will be a drive-thru parade on June 17 for students to get their certificates and awards. Students will also get a video and slideshow this year to commemorate the ceremony.

“I know that this is not what any of us expected, but the safety of our students, their families, and our staff is and always will be the priority,” Whisconier’s Principal Deane Renda wrote to parents. “I think this is something that the students will remember in a positive way and actually might like it that they don’t have to sit for two hours all dressed up.”

kkoerting@newstimes.com