Northampton and Broadwater Get Creative With Graduations

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By Stefanie Jackson – Northampton’s public and private high schools had to turn up the creativity a notch to make graduation special for the Class of 2020 in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and the accompanying social distancing guidelines.

Broadwater Academy, in Exmore, issued a press release that stated a traditional graduation ceremony was not possible, “so an alternative was suggested that truly fits the Eastern Shore of Virginia and our water-focused existence”: a boat parade on Occohannock Creek.

“We believe we have created a positive, fun experience that will appropriately and safely honor our graduates and allow families and friends to celebrate,” said Julie Badger, Broadwater’s interim head of school.

The “first-of-its-kind” ceremonial boat parade will be Saturday, May 30, 2 p.m., launching from Morley’s Wharf, outside of Exmore, and traveling along Occohannock Creek’s southern shore toward Shield’s Bridge.

The parade will turn around and travel along the north side of the creek toward Camp Occohannock, then return to the wharf.

All boat owners are invited to participate in the parade that will last about one hour. Participants are advised to practice social distancing during the event.

“We are truly looking forward to a fabulous celebration that captures the spirit and tradition of the end of year,” Badger said.

The parade will be broadcast live on social media. A rain date is scheduled for Saturday, June 6, 2 p.m. A regular graduation ceremony is tentatively planned for Saturday, Aug.1.

Northampton High School, in Eastville, has planned a drive-up graduation with a twist, making sure graduates don’t miss out on that “signature moment” when they walk across the stage to receive their diplomas.

Each graduate will receive a time slot for Wednesday, June 3, or Thursday, June 4, to attend the Signature Moment graduation event with four family members at the Yellow Jackets football and soccer field.

Each graduate will arrive in formal attire and a cap and gown and will be advised to remain in the vehicle with his or her guests until directed by school staff to proceed. Social distancing guidelines will be practiced.

Each graduate and guests will visit nine stations on the field, and the graduate will get the chance to walk across the stage and accept his or her diploma. Photos will be taken and used to make a video honoring the Class of 2020.

The video is expected to be released by Saturday, June 13.

Northampton High School may also hold a traditional graduation ceremony in December.