Waterloo 2019 graduation

In this 2019 file photo, a Waterloo High School graduate decorated her mortar board with a famous line from a Grateful Dead song. It’s an apt way to describe what the Class of 2020’s final year has looked like.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, school officials have been challenged in unprecedented ways.

Institute remote learning on the fly. Craft a 2020-21 budget knowing a take-back in state aid might occur after the next school year has started. And, most recently, plan graduation ceremonies that combine social distancing, sanitizing measures, outdoor venues and gatherings of 150 people or less.

Geneva, Newark, Penn Yan, Mynderse, Midlakes, South Seneca, Clyde-Savannah, Lyons and Waterloo will hand out diplomas to members of their respective Classes of 2020 in various ways, beginning Friday morning and wrapping up Saturday night.

Newark, Penn Yan and Seneca Falls have broken their commencement into multiple parts, depending on where a student’s last name falls in the alphabet. Newark is holding a five-stage event: four groups will graduate Friday, while the fifth walks across the stage Saturday morning.

“We are doing this many ceremonies so we can have each senior bring up to four family members and stay under the 150-person limit from the last Executive Order from Gov. Cuomo,” Newark Superintendent Matt Cook said, noting that each of the five events will be livestreamed on the district’s YouTube channel so additional family members and friends can watch.

Perhaps the biggest drawback could be inclement weather, as thunderstorms are a possibility Friday and Saturday.

“The only adjustment might be the starting time, depending on weather,” said South Seneca Superintendent Steve Parker Zielinski, whose commencement has been planned for 9:30 a.m. Saturday. “Since we have no option to move this one indoors, we will need to take advantage of a couple of rain-free hours, hopefully Saturday morning, but we are prepared to pivot to Saturday afternoon, or to Sunday if necessary.”

In fact, Zielinski announced Friday afternoon that South Seneca's ceremony had been postponed until 9:30 a.m. Sunday.

Most area districts have set the next day as a rain date. For example, Midlakes and Waterloo would hold their ceremonies at the same times Sunday if weather interrupts Saturday’s plans.

Here is a list of area commencement ceremonies, including links to watch online or radio stations that will broadcast the audio portion:


When: Friday, 7 p.m.

Where: Nick DerCola Field

Guests: Information not available

Livestream: Information not available


When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.

Where: Loman Stadium

Guests: Not allowed

Note: Beginning at 6:15 p.m., parents are allowed to join a drive-by parade behind the high school during which they can wave at their child

Radio: WHWS (105.7 FM or whws.fm)


When: Friday, 6 p.m.

Where: LHS football stadium

Guests: Up to 2 family members allowed per student


When: Saturday, 7 p.m.

Where: Ollie Cook Memorial Field

Guests: Not allowed


When: Friday, 6 p.m. (part 1) and 7:15 p.m. (part 2)

Where: Bracht Field

Guests: Up to 2 family members allowed per student


When: Friday, 8:45 a.m. (part 1), 11:15 a.m. (part 2), 6:45 p.m. (part 3) and 9:15 p.m. (part 4); Saturday, 11:15 a.m. (part 5)

Where: NHS football stadium

Guests: Up to 4 family members allowed per student

Penn Yan

When: Friday, 5 p.m. (part 1) and 7 p.m. (part 2)

Where: Mustang Field

Guests: Up to 2 family members allowed per student

Radio: WLFR (96.9 FM, 101.9 FM, 1570 AM)

South Seneca

When: Sunday, 9:30 a.m.

Where: Ovid campus athletic field that adjoins the football/soccer field

Guests: Not allowed; parents and family members can park next to the athletic field and watch the procession from their vehicles


When: Saturday, 7 p.m.

Where: Tom Coughlin Stadium

Guests: NA

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