PENNSBURY >> With the COVID-19 pandemic continuing and stay-at-home orders extended, the school district is exploring ways to celebrate the accomplishments of the Class of 2020 as the end of the school year rapidly approaches.
In an April 21 letter to PHS parents, students and staff, Superintendent Dr. William Gretzula said the administration is hoping to hold a traditional graduation in July pending the status of stay at home orders and social distancing guidelines, but other senior traditions such as Sports Nite have been canceled while others, including the nationally-renowned Senior Prom, may take place in a different format.
“As the parent of two high school students, a senior and a freshman, I truly understand the impact the sudden school closure has on the minds and hearts of our PHS students and staff,” wrote Gretzula. “While opportunities to meet virtually and engage in digital content may fill the need for some, I know it pales in comparison to the experiences we enjoyed when we were in schools together. The timing was abrupt and came close to the end of the year when we were poised to recognize the tremendous efforts of students throughout the 2019-2020 school year, and especially our amazing seniors!”
Gretzula said while the priority must be to remain focused on the safety and security of students and families, “the district is committed” to providing opportunities to celebrate the accomplishments of the Pennsbury High School Class of 2020.
“Unfortunately, the reality of school closure for the balance of the academic year forces us to make the following decisions,” said the superintendent, including the cancellation of Sports Nite, the district’s traditional sports battle between the Black and the Orange teams.
“We share the disappointment of our juniors and seniors in making this announcement, but we know that everyone understands such large crowd gatherings are prohibited at this time.”
Pennsbury’s nationally-renowned Senior Prom also “cannot be executed as we had hoped before the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Gretzula. “It is clear that the traditional format is not possible. This saddens everyone involved. Many alternative ideas have been discussed, and timely information about alternative plans will be shared by the high school administration in the coming weeks,” he wrote.
The 2020 Commencement ceremony, originally scheduled for June, is also being postponed.
“At this stage, we are moving the formal PHS graduation celebration to July 22 in an effort to increase the possibility of a traditional ceremony in Falcon Field,” the superintendent wrote. “If it is determined that this still cannot take place due to extended stay at home orders or social distancing guidelines, we are planning for alternatives to ensure our graduating seniors receive proper recognition for their efforts and accomplishments,” said Gretzula.
The superintendent said students, staff, and administrators are “continuously working together to determine ways to engage our students and celebrate their successes. We are exploring various options to honor our students in other ways and will communicate our plans with the school community.”
Some upcoming annual events, which are being planned in a different format than usual, include the National Honor Society induction ceremony, Academic Awards and the Falcon Athletic Awards.
“High school principals will be reaching out to students and families as more specific information is ready to be shared,” wrote Gretzula. “We may also be seeking photos and quotes as we plan for these ceremonies to occur in virtual settings.
“We appreciate the enthusiasm of both our staff and students in developing creative ways to celebrate our Senior Class and look forward to these events,” he wrote.