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A Special Message from Board of Education President Anthony C. O'Brien for the members of the Class of 2020 and their parents

This is a special announcement from Anthony O'Brien the President of the Patchogue-Medford Board of Education:

Good evening Patchogue-Medford community.  I hope this finds all of you in good health. I'd like to begin by saying that it has come to my attention that there is a group of parents who insist on disrupting the process of the Patchogue-Medford High School Class of 2020's graduation.

This is beyond disappointing and troubling to me as an alum, as a parent to an alum and as a trustee of the Board of Education for the last 12 years. Single handedly, this group of parents are trying to hijack graduation any way possible for their own good. Unfortunately, they have ignored the will of the majority of the senior class and they believe that the Governor's Executive Order mandating Social Distancing and Group Gatherings does not apply to Patchogue-Medford.

I believe that the transparency that the district has shown in regards to this process has gone above and beyond that which is necessary.  While other school districts are having virtual graduations, Patchogue-Medford is not! While other school districts are separating the senior class over 3 and 4 days of graduation ceremonies, Patchogue-Medford is not! While other school districts are planning mid-summer graduations with only HOPES of a rescinded Executive Order, Patchogue-Medford is not!

Our plan is a traditional graduation ceremony as we have had for decades with the only difference being that it is set in 2020, the day of COVID-19, a World Pandemic, where nothing is like it was.

You don't need to know all the details... it's like taking the Magic out of Christmas. Trust the process.

My suggestion moving forward is to knock-it-off, stop being negative and remember graduation day is about the children. We will make this day a day the graduates will always remember not because mom and dad were bullies on Facebook or were arrested during a protest of 10 or more people outside of district office. But it is because it is what the Senior Class of 2020 of Patchogue-Medford High School deserves.

To all the Parents that are out there supporting graduation and the safety of our children and parents and the excitement of what will be happening that night... all I can say is thank you for all your support!

Additionally, please see the letter which follows that Dr. Jones sent to the Senior Class this morning.

Thank you and have a good night.

 

May 21, 2020

 

Dear Class of 2020,

As I reflect back on all of the challenges that you have faced as a class over the past two months, I determined that it was time to address you personally. First and foremost, I hope that you and your families are well.  I have heard so many heartbreaking stories that are difficult to even imagine.  And while some of you are fortunate that all family members are healthy and safe, some of you have experienced loss of loved ones, financial hardships, food insecurities and so much more. Some of you have family members in your own household fighting the virus and have had to increase your personal responsibilities, while trying to keep up with your class work.  Some of you are worried about parents working twelve hour shifts on the front line - placing their own health and safety at risk for the greater good of humanity. Still others are just saddened and anxious about the entire state of affairs.  Class of 2020, you are living through an historic time.

It seems so unfair that all of this has happened to you.  You have each been prematurely propelled into adulthood and have learned at a very young age that life can throw you some unexpected curve balls. On top of all of the changes to what should have been the highlight of your senior year, you have been faced with disappointments and uncertainty beyond any of our ability to control.  

Yet, in the midst of all that you have faced, I must share how very proud I am of you!  Each week, your teachers and Dr. R provide updates to me of the ways that you have been walking through this war zone.  I have seen your videos and pictures.  I have read your essays and watched some of you pitch in to serve humanity in the midst of the pandemic.  You are destined for greatness because you have internalized a very powerful lesson - we can’t always control what happens to us in life but we can control the way we respond to what happens.  Each of you have determined to accept what you can’t control, while maintaining a positive outlook wherever possible.  You are developing remarkable character and compassion for humanity.  These are the qualities, dear class that truly measure success in life!  

I want you each to know that Dr. R and I have been working around the clock to sort through the graduation challenges.  There is not a day that goes by that I am not spending much time on your graduation plans.  Every school district is doing something different and we know that it is unsettling not to know what exactly we have planned. There are several reasons why we have yet to provide all logistical details for the graduation.  The first reason is that we are preparing very exciting plans that we hope to be able to deliver.  However, if we share it all and the governor changes an executive order again, we don’t want to disappoint you further.  My other thought in not sharing every detail is to provide the VERY best experience and to create an element of surprise for you.  You will have the very best experience that we can provide to you under the circumstances.  You will have a live graduation.  We will figure out a way for you to walk to receive your diploma.  Your class representatives will address you live on a podium.  You will have a chance to take the professional pictures to cherish. We will blast each of your names and pictures on the big screens that we are renting for your movie theatre style graduation and we you will all be present in a safe and socially acceptable format.  Movie theatre style is not traditional but we have found a creative way to bring you safely together for the occasion.  We have this and we owe the best to you for all that you have endured! 

Please know that we know how much this all means to you.  Please know that we have heard your voice through your surveys and through your student representatives.  I am proud of your professionalism, and your patience and civility as we work through the plans.  

You are destined for greatness.  I believe in you.  We will get through this.  You will look back on all of this someday and realize that you were stronger and more resilient than you ever could have imagined!  I look forward to seeing you at the graduation!

Best Regards,

Donna Jones, Ed.D.

Superintendent of Schools

Patchogue Medford School District