EPHS Graduation 2020: Townie Seniors Applauded during Citywide Parade
See Photo Gallery of Senior Class Parade
The culmination of their historic senior year came to an official close on Sunday June 7, 2020 as the community celebrated the graduation of some 303 seniors in the class of 2020. Instead of a packed Pierce Stadium or a crowded gymnasium, if inclement weather, Townie seniors and family members were honored during a parade of vehicles which formed a police escorted motorcade through the streets of East Providence and ending at the city’s iconic Pierce Memorial Stadium.
The global pandemic caused by the Covid 19 deadly virus, closed all Rhode Island schools since about March 13th. East Providence was at the lead in developing a “virtual learning” curriculum which allowed online education to continue as schools were resigned to finishing out the school year with teachers and students at home.
While the East Providence distance learning curriculum was used by some in Rhode Island as a template for their own programs, most acknowledge that it shouldn’t be a long-term implementation. Just about all teachers, parents and students want to return to the traditional classroom as soon as possible. “It plugged a hole and got us through the year,” said a veteran high school teacher while at Pierce Field during the senior motorcade. “It just about ran it’s course and can’t work much longer. We need to get back in-person in the classroom,” said this teacher. The comment was echoed by most people who had to experience the distance learning program. “We are trying to get our kids away from the computer, video games and television in general. Forcing our kids to learn just by computer classrooms only adds to the problem,” said the parent of an elementary and a high school student. An elementary school teacher present at Pierce said that her recent decision to retire was hastened by the onset of more distance learning. “I need to be in my classroom with my students,” she said.
In addition to distance learning, high school seniors lost most of their rites of passage such as proms, award banquets, class trips, etc. All interscholastic sports were also canceled. Due to the Governor’s and health department restrictions on public gatherings, city school officials were faced with few options for graduation ceremonies. Diplomas and academic & athletic awards have been delivered to students by teachers and some activities have been broadcast on social media. Students were videotaped walking across the high stage in a fully decorated gymnasium at they received their diploma.
“The Friends of Townie Athletics Org. and the EPHS Athletic Dept. honors the East Providence High School Senior Student Athletes in many ways as we were unable to have the traditional senior athletic banquet due to Covid 19. Coaches have been and continue to visit our athletes to deliver their senior awards and lists of all senior athletic awards were published in local media. Townie Pride Never Sleeps!” said EP Athletic Director Gregg Amore.
"This weekend was special and a testament to how great our community is. We come together like no other," said Mayor Bob DaSilva. "And to cap it off on Sunday, the East Providence High School graduation parade saw so many residents come out to show love and support for our graduating seniors. It took many people to come together to make this a huge success. Thank you all," said East Providence's mayor.
The energetic and well-organized motorcade made its way through the city on Sunday, June 8th and was met with small gatherings along the way. Upon entering Pierce Stadium, the motorcade was met by EPHS teachers and other city officials. Mayor Bob DaSilva, council president Bob Britto and council vice-president Bob Rodericks greeted students as they entered the stadium. Council members Nate Cahoon, Anna Sousa and Ricardo Mourato were along the parade route. School committee members were in the procession which was led by EPHS principal Shani Wallace in the first car and followed by Superintendent of Schools Kathryn Crowley and husband. All around Pierce Stadium, the track was lined with EPHS teachers and staff, applauding and waving to each car that drove by as every student was introduced by the stadium loudspeaker. It was not what the 2020 seniors had planned in September, but there were wide smiles all around this Sunday morning. Townie Pride had persevered.
(Photo gallery provided by City of East Providence)